In my Christmas Day homily, I said that Christmas takes us back to who we are. The grace of the Incarnation and the Christmas season bring love, joy, and peace to the world. This is what we are about. But, specifically, the manger scene reminds us who we are, first and foremost. God sent His Son into the world to become a child so that we become His children. The Gospel for Christmas Day (Jn 1:1-18) proclaims this: “to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God”.
There is a big emphasis in the world today on identity, and there is much confusion. We all need to be reminded that before anything else, our identity is children of God. Before we get into any labels or anything that we do, each of us is a son or daughter of our Father. The baby in the manger is adored and loved for WHO he is, and rightly so because he is the Son of God. But that scene is also a reminder that each one of us is a child loved by our heavenly Father. He loves for WHO we are. It’s like St. John Paul II used to say: “when we get to know Christ, we get to know ourselves”.
As we celebrate the Christmas event that leads us to become children of God, the Church emphasizes the theme of family with today’s feast. Below is a beautiful reflection on the Holy Family by Dr. Scott Hahn from https://stpaulcenter.com Christ is born!
Why did Jesus choose to become a baby born of a mother and father and to spend all but His last years living in an ordinary human family? In part, to reveal God’s plan to make all people live as one “holy family” in His Church (see 2 Corinthians 6:16-18). In the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, God reveals our true home. We’re to live as His children, “chosen ones, holy and beloved,” as the First Reading puts it.
The family advice we hear in today’s readings – for mothers, fathers and children – is all solid and practical. Happy homes are the fruit of our faithfulness to the Lord, we sing in today’s Psalm. But the Liturgy is inviting us to see more, to see how, through our family obligations and relationships, our families become heralds of the family of God that He wants to create on earth.
Jesus shows us this in today’s Gospel. His obedience to His earthly parents flows directly from His obedience to the will of His heavenly Father. Joseph and Mary aren’t identified by name, but three times are called “his parents” and are referred to separately as his “mother” and “father.” The emphasis is all on their “familial” ties to Jesus. But these ties are emphasized only so that Jesus, in the first words He speaks in Luke’s Gospel, can point us beyond that earthly relationship to the Fatherhood of God.
In what Jesus calls “My Father’s house,” every family finds its true meaning and purpose (see Ephesians 3:15). The Temple we read about in the Gospel today is God’s house, His dwelling (see Luke 19:46). But it’s also an image of the family of God, the Church (see Ephesians 2:19-22; Hebrews 3:3-6; 10:21).
In our families we’re to build up this household, this family, this living temple of God. Until He reveals His new dwelling among us, and says of every person: “I shall be his God and he will be My son” (see Revelation 21:3, 7).