The joy of Jesus’ birth has the power to transcend the struggles of life. Mary and Joseph were forced by the Roman authorities to make an unreasonably-difficult, late-pregnancy journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and when the arrived, exhausted from their travels, they were relegated to a lowly stable because there was no room for them in the inn. Despite their deplorable conditions, they were overjoyed at the birth of their newborn son.
The shepherds were on duty day and night, overworked, tired, often isolated and lonely, shivering in the frosty winter air, and encompassed by the oppressive midnight darkness. Despite their miserable plight, the angel told the shepherds, “I proclaim to you good news of great joy” (Lk 2:10). Immediately they went in haste to Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in the manger, and as they returned to their flocks their hearts danced with joy.
The magi set out from distant Persian and traveled by caravan across the arid Syrian desert, apart from their families, scorched by the searing heat, dehydrated, buffeted by the Sirocco winds, covered with dust, and weary. Despite such a rigorous expedition and bleak outlook, they were overjoyed at seeing his star, and when they entered the house and saw the babe with his mother Mary they were filled with awe and joyfully paid him homage. No matter how bad things got, the birth of the Messiah changed troubled hearts to joyful ones.
According to the divine master plan, God wants every person to experience the same joy that was experienced by the angels, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and the magi on that great and glorious night when Jesus our Savior, the King of kings and Prince of Peace, was born into the world. His light pierced the darkness and a new age has dawned on the earth.
Two thousand years later Jesus, the Word made flesh and the Light of the World, brings hope to our troubles. Yes, war looms, terrorists plot, leaders disappoint, the powerful exploit, families bicker, liars deceive, victims suffer, the sick languish, survivors grieve, the poor are ignored, and we are sinners, but despite all this, Jesus continues to illumine our darkness, and his light will always prevail! The Lord is come! The Savior reigns! Joy to the world!
About Father Michael Van Sloun
Father Michael Van Sloun is pastor of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Wayzata, Minn. As a former school principal, high school instructor and athletic coach, he has always been a teacher. He now teaches the faith as a homilist, Bible study leader, retreat director, pilgrimage guide and author of numerous articles.
© Rev. Michael Van Sloun
Used with permission.