How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,
announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,
“Your God is King!”
Christmas is so big it was seen centuries before it happened. Isaiah said those words seven centuries before the birth of Jesus. Isaiah saw what God showed him. Isaiah was looking at Christianity in the distant future. Christianity would change the world.
Why was Christmas such a big deal? Let’s try and understand the significance of Christmas.
Can you imagine a world without Christianity? It was a dark world for those who did not know God. Without Christian Hope people did not expect Eternal Life, because they only believed in death, and life dominated by death and suffering. Pagan gods did not promise life after death. Sacrifices were made to them to find some favor in this life. Death was the limit for pagan religions. The world before Jesus was a world of melancholy, without hope. It was a world that lived in fear, like those who suffer persecution, rape and/or death from drug dealers and gangs in Mexico or Central America. There was a lot of superstition in the world without Christ. And there is still a lot of superstition and hopelessness in the world that does not accept Christ.
Let’s imagine what it is like to live in a world without the light of Christian hope brought by Jesus. Come with me to imagine living under the death penalty. Imagine with me that perhaps you have Cancer, or expect a violent death and you know you do not have much life left. That was the world before Christ. Literature from those times revealed world that walked in darkness and fear. It is difficult for us today to understand just how dark and melancholy the world was before the coming of Christ. That is why the historical designations B.C., or Before Christ, and A.D., Anno Domini, the “Year of Our Lord” are so important in history. Before Hope. After Hope. God’s Hope for us.
Before Christ, all over the world there was only one people who had a religion that spoke of the hope of overcoming death and fear. Only the Jews had the prophecies of the Messiah and eternal life. Throughout the Old Testament you will find these prophecies of the Messiah, like the prophet Isaiah, who wrote these words 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ,
“The people who walked in darkness
saw a great light … “
And Isaiah also said,
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
This prophecy has been fulfilled. When she was nine months pregnant, Maria traveled with Joseph about 90 miles from Nazareth to the small town of Bethlehem, where King David had been born a thousand years before. Joseph was of the family tree of David. That trip easily took four days or more. Saint Luke tells us,
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The two of them well knew that the little baby she was carrying was the Son of God, the Messiah.
And after the birth there were multiple confirmations that this infant was the Son of God. The angels sent the shepherds to adore the child. And they also sent the Star and the Three Kings to worship him. And the prophets Simeon and Anna in the Temple confirmed that the prophecies of the Messiah had been fulfilled in this child.
What did they do when they beheld the infant, all these witnesses with Mary and Joseph? What should we do in the presence of the Child Jesus, our God?
Adore. There is nothing else we can do, but simply adore him, … contemplating the peace and hope that it brings us. A true Peace. A true Hope. We contemplate this miracle today. Spend some time before the manger scene. Contemplate how it has made your life different from all life before Christ. Ponder the mystery…
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,