Feast of Christmas: Matthew 1 : 1-25 Luke 2: 1-14.
There are two separate - at times contradictory - gospel narratives of the birth of Jesus. There is Matthew 1: 1-25, and there is Luke 2: 1-14. But most of us know about this special event, not from those gospel narratives, but from Christmas pageants and from the 'manger/ crib scene that St. Francis of Assisi is said to have produced in Greccio. Those productions interwove both the gospel stories, leave out the contradictions, and gave us the impression that there is just one gospel narrative.
In Matthew's account there is no census, no journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, no inn, no stable, no shepherds and no angelic messengers. The differences lie in the fact that Matthew and Luke, who probably never read each other gospel, employed two different traditions, with each trying to convey his unique theology about the significance of Jesus of Nazareth.
Now, whatever about those differences, the basic teaching of Christmas is that God came into our human history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth - Jesus is the God's effective word among us. We sing that in the Christmas liturgy, "To-day is born a messiah, the Lord". There we actualise the message of the angels to the shepherds.
But - and here is the big question to ask, so that the message of this feast be relevant to us now - where is the Saviour born to-day?
Certainly Jesus is present in the Christmas liturgy and in every Eucharistic celebration. But that does not exhaust the whole presence of the Lord.
The mystery of Christmas is always current - there is always a living nativity to-day. Where?
It can be hard to detect his presence in the big stores where the consumer world goes berserk - but he is there.But it would be easier, and more disturbing, to find him present/ born where there are people without a house or inn - on parts of the Mediterranean shore, among the 1000s of refugee children who come to the shores of Greece, Italy and Spain, and who often die in attempts to reach there.
The social networks have given us the image of Aylan, the little boy who was washed up dead on a beach in Turkey. But there are 1000s of children fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan in search of a country that will welcome them. How often have they been received with barbed wire or a bureaucracy that can't see a way to grant them a visa? There is no room for them. They are illegal, nameless, undesirable, disposable.
And Jesus is born again among the children who are try to survive in camps; among the child soldiers recruited by terrorists groups; among those who are crossing the border between Mexico and USA; among the street kids who live under the bridges of our cities.
Thankfully Jesus is also born in boys and girls by someone lovingly giving security and care - be it in ordinary families or institutions.
Living nativities exist near all of us to-day, though we don't hear rumors of angels. And it is only when approach these living nativities, can we sing completely truthfully, "Today is born unto us a saviour, the Messiah, the Lord.".