Catholic Men’s Daily Devotional and Bible Study – Christmas – Vigil Mass – Luke 2:1-14
Despite the incessant schemes of men, the birth of Christ reconfirms God’s dominion over all of Creation, including the lives of men. The first line in Luke’s Nativity account reveals the great darkness in the world: the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus, known for his oppressive control of Israel (and much of the world) was hailed as a “Son of God” and the “savior of mankind” of the world. As part of the oppression, Caesar through his governor Quirinus demanded a census, a counting of people in order to raise more tax/tribute money. By threat of persecution (and death), Joseph is compelled to travel (90 miles) to his home town to be counted; Mary (and Jesus) travels with Joseph because she is in the late stages of pregnancy.
Caesar unknowingly is used by God to fulfill prophecy about the Messiah. Joseph’s return to Bethlehem fulfills prophecy: King David, Israel’s greatest king was anointed king in Bethlehem (1 Sam 16:1-13) and the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2). Remarkably, Bethlehem means “house of bread” into which Christ, the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35), is born. Several centuries later, Christ, the true Son of God and Savior of the World, will convert the Roman Empire and use it to evangelize the world.
Rather than being born into earthly riches, Christ chooses to be born into poverty; Joseph and Mary are of the poor, Christ is born in a stable in the small town of Bethlehem and sleeps in a manger (a feeding trough for animals). Rather than being celebrated by powerful political and religious leaders, Christ’s birth is announced by a host (meaning “army”) of angels to the lowly and rough men who kept watch over flocks at night. As in God’s appearance earlier during the Exodus (Exod 40:35), the glory of the Lord (a fiery presence) accompanies the angel who announces Christ the Lord and Savior is born.
Awed by Jesus Christ – Person of the Trinity, Christ inspires men across time to prepare for His Advent and birth. Son of God and Lord of Hosts, Christ directs armies of angels to announce His birth. Divine King, Christ’s eternal power and wisdom thwarts the delusions of greatness of Caesar and other sinful men. Son of Man and Perfection of Virtue, Christ humbles Himself to be born into the flesh in poverty.
Being a Heroic Catholic Man
1) Arrogant men of earthly power strut and boast. Marvel at the Son of God and Savior who, in contrast to Caesar’s delusions, actually does rule Creation and saves men from eternal death.
2) Modern “sugary” approaches to portraying the Nativity (children in school plays, lit Nativity scenes with happy animals, etc.) distract from the harsh circumstances and the powerful supernatural acts of God. Marvel at the frightening fiery manifestation of God, the appearance of the angel and the appearance of a host (again, army) of angels.
3) Christmas, like so many Catholic holy days (St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, All Hallows Eve), has been hijacked to focus on selling stuff. Reflect on Christ’s purposeful decision to embrace poverty in His Nativity and pray for Christ to help you turn away from the obsession with acquiring material things.
Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers
Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries
Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity
Virtue of the Day – Charity
Corporal Work of Mercy – To feed the hungry
Spiritual Work of Mercy – To admonish the sinner