Friends, it feels like I already celebrated Christmas this year. I travelled with 35 current and former students to Israel in May. While there, we visited Bethlehem and celebrated Mass in the cave where the shepherds were “keeping the night watch over their flock” (Lk 2: 8). It is customary when on a pilgrimage in the Holy Land to celebrate the feast day of the location you are visiting, so even though it was May and 100 degrees outside, we celebrated the Mass for the Nativity of the Lord.
Singing Christmas hymns and the Gloria in the place where the content of those songs originated was a moving experience. While we all cannot and may not be able to visit the physical locations of Christ’s Nativity, we have the extraordinary privilege as Catholics to experience a kind of Nativity each time we celebrate the Eucharist which is the Body of our Lord coming to us each Mass. Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means in Hebrew “House of Bread.” He was placed in a manger, which literally means “chewing” because it was where the animals ate. The Eucharistic clues are all over in the Christmas story!
Just as Jesus came into the world small as a baby, he comes to us now small as the Eucharist. Let us not miss the “little Christmas” that happens at every Mass. As the Church throughout the U.S. participates this year in a Eucharistic revival, may we all experience the coming of Our Lord anew, in particular, in the Holy Eucharist.
– Fr. Jeremy