Malvern Minute



December 25, 2019

Mass During the Night

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry


Isaiah 9:1-6

Psalm 96

Letter of Saint Paul to Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-14

There are three separate sets of readings for Mass at the Christmas liturgies; Mass during the night, Mass at dawn and Mass during the day.  I chose the readings for the Mass during the night for a very specific reason.

In 1965 “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was aired for the first time on T.V.  Interestingly, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic characters, Charles M. Schulz, had to battle the CBS network executives who were nervous about sacred scripture being included in a prime-time network presentation.  Fortunately, for all generations, meaning countless millions of us, Mr. Schulz stuck to his guns.  The results are one of television’s most beloved and most popular Christmas specials in history.

“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”  Charlie Brown shouts.  Linus then recites the Gospel passage of Saint Luke that is proclaimed at the Christmas Mass during the night. 

In reading this beautiful Gospel narrative, I found myself marveling at its power.  What is it about Luke’s telling of the nativity that makes it so enduring, and endearing?  Year after year, century after century, whether on television or in Church, we’re drawn to this story and moved by it again and again.  It is, for many of us THE Christmas story.

I believe this to be true because of the cast of characters Luke assembles.  Luke was the only evangelist who was not a Jew, and his Gospel is beautifully inclusive.  He is the evangelist for the outsider and the outcast; and, so in this birth narrative, he has included EVERYONEJesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, and even Caesar is mentioned.  The only significant characters that are missing are the three Wise Men, but we will hear about them during the feast of the Epiphany on January 5th.  In this narrative, you can really see the world spread before us.  EVERYONE is welcome at the stable.  Throughout the centuries, we recall this heavenly event and today we, too, are welcomed at the stable.

Beyond the setting and the emotional sentiment, there is a truth that strikes at the heart of every believing Christian – the truth that defines Christmas and defines us as Catholic Christians.  It is right there, in the middle of the Gospel, in the very first words that are spoken by the angel to the shepherds.  Those words were simply, “Do not be afraid.”  But wait, it gets better.  The angel says, “Behold, I proclaim to you Good News of great joy that will be for ALL PEOPLE.  A savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.” 

My dear friends, these are the words we have been waiting and longing for.  With this moment, the course of human history changes foreverFOREVER!  God has become one of us!  The Savior’s very name proclaims the incredible truth that no one ever thought possible; “Emmanuel, God With Us!”

Let this beautiful Gospel narrative of Saint Luke resonate in your hearts today and throughout the year.  Christmas is about redemption.  But it is also about God’s overpowering love for us; His reassurance to a troubled, frightened, war-torn world that He is indeed with us, Yesterday, Today and Forever.  He dreams with us, He struggles with us, and He hopes with us.  So, “DO NOT BE AFRAID!”

In the immortal words of that great philosopher, Linus Van Pelt, after he recited the words of Saint Luke, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!”

From all of us serving you at the Malvern Retreat House may God Bless you and your families as we wish you a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and safe New Year.

Questions of the Day:  Today do you realize and acknowledge the magnificent miracle of God actually became one of us so that He can share everything with us and to be present to each of us as we are?  

Prayer:  Lord God, on this Christmas Day we come to you as your people longing to grow in faithfully responding to you in the Person of Jesus the Christ born for us in Bethlehem.  As we come to know Brother Jesus ever more deeply, help us to develop each day an awareness of who He is and that He is with us.  We are blessed by God’s presence in Jesus; be with us as we continue to discover the marvels of that presence and to offer it to all we meet. 



Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat. 

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