“From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace.” — John 1:16

The Nativity of the Lord

Cycle ABC Readings:

1) Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 98:1-6

2) Hebrews 1:1-6

Gospel: John 1:1-18 or John 1:1-5, 9-14

Deacon Mike Ellerbrock
Catholic News Service

Why does Christmas bring out the best in us? Powerful enough to induce a 24-hour cease-fire with music among combatants in World War I, the image of an innocent infant in a barnyard manger offering peace and hope to a broken world causes hearts to pause and consider the possibility.

Beginning at home, could we be so moved as to rewrite the rules of life?

Who was this special child born to a virgin? If he was indeed the long-awaited Messiah (“Anointed One”) revealed by angels, a star and a dove, what was his mission?

When the guns of war fell quiet that silent night along a 460-mile front in Belgium and France, Allied and German troops spontaneously broke into a volley of Christmas carols. Reverberating voices displaced the deafening roar of artillery fire. For a glorious moment, peace reigned instead of terror.

World War I altered history by unleashing dramatic advancements in the technology of warfare that killed 17 million and wounded another 20 million in only four years. Evil was raw. The human toll and utter devastation of the land drove many survivors into deep pessimism about the human condition.

Two young British soldiers who experienced that war in the brutal, filthy trenches — J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis — later bonded into lifelong friends. Despite the devastation of World War I, Tolkien held onto his Catholic faith, and he played a large role in Lewis converting from atheism to Christianity.

Leaping the existential abyss, Tolkien and Lewis chose Christ and his Gospel message. Soul mates and literary colleagues, they inspired each other for decades to put their faith in print to explore the essential goodness of humanity redeemed by God’s grace. Using mythology to spark the Christian imagination of generations, their legacy includes “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Screwtape Letters.”

Similarly, John’s Gospel invites us into the Holy Family’s sacred home “full of grace and truth” where light dispels darkness and believers become children of God. Giving is receiving. Unmerited gifts call forth our best instincts. Salvation arrives in a lowly infant under our care and trust. Goodwill and joy beckon all nations. Alleluia!

QUESTION: How does the Incarnation bring us “grace in place of grace”?