“A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us.”

The response for the Psalm offered for the second Mass of Christmas—the Mass at Dawn—or even more traditionally called the Mass of the Shepherds, certainly captures a theme of the day and of the mystery of the Incarnation itself that remarkably speaks to the hearts and minds of believers who come from every stripe to share the gift of God’s Presence in the Flesh!

Somehow we still choose darkness in the midst of the most powerful Light ever cast upon the vision of humanity—Emmanuel—God with us. Since the prophecy was uttered in the book of the Prophet Isaiah (7:14) the title Emmanuel is a pledge of Divine assistance and a prophetic utterance announcing Messianic involvement in the Redemption of humanity. Thus, shepherds and kings are summoned to Bethlehem to glorify God and witness the action of God’s love and gratuitous mercy set forth in the birth of Jesus.

It is the Blessed Virgin Mary who offers the secular world an insight that cannot and must not be overlooked. The Gospel of that Mass of the Shepherds once again reminds us that none of the undeniably Divine actions—choirs of angels, visiting shepherds, or fascinated kings, would escape the thoughtful rumination of the Mother of God. “Mary pondered these events in her heart.” What a gift! From the beginning of the Savior’s life, Mary was the memory and the sacred trust of the formulation of His Church. Her maternal eye and matriarchal mind followed the events of Jesus’ life from Bethlehem to Jerusalem and every stop in between. It is she, to this day who still reminds us of Emmanuel’s presence.

In the Church, this year, we mark a Year of Jubilee celebrating the gift of Divine Mercy and the challenge of seeking Jesus in the world every day, until He comes again. From the beginning of time, the mercy of God always offers sinner pardon. This is the gratuitous gift of grace and love from God. We must not forget, however, that this gift calls us to “ponder” God’s love in our hearts and respond in an act of conversion—recognizing God’s gift in the simplicity and the poverty of our own hearts. Thus, Light shines in the darkness of our secular world and offers itself to those believers who share it and recognize it in their own actions performed in the Light of Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, arise and come into the Light that is Christ. Be of good cheer and celebrate His presence in your actions of mercy accomplished in His Name! Merry Christmas!