Reflections on the Teaching of Vatican II Through the Magisterium of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis
Friday, December 25, 2015
Christmas Day: The Savior- Robert Barron
In the Gospel of Luke, we discover the Annunciation to Mary. Here is what the angel Gabriel says to the Virgin: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33).
No first-century Israelite would have missed the meaning here: this child shall be the fulfillment of the promise made to King David. He will be the king of the world, the one who would bring unity and peace to the nations.
The angel confirms this to the shepherds in the fields: “For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord: (Luke 2:11). Saviour is Soter in Greek, which means “healer.” This was rendered in Latin asSalvator, Saviour in English. In old myths and legends, the true king would bring healing to his country, just as a wicked king would make the whole country sick.
Further, this healer is “Christ and Lord.” Christosmeans anointed, and this has a clear Davidic overtone, for David had been anointed king by the prophet Samuel, and all of his successors had been anointed. This baby will be the point of ordering for the entire world; he'll be the ruler and governor, the one who sets the tone.
And this is further emphasized by calling him “Lord”—Kyrios in Greek, Dominus in Latin. He is the one who should dominate us, rule over every aspect of us.
With the angel’s next words, everything is turned upside down: “And this shall be the sign to you: you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” The new David, Christ the Lord, the Dominus, the center and orderer of all things, the emperor of the universe…is a baby? And a baby wrapped up so it can’t move? And lying where? In the grubby place where the animals eat?
Here is all of the poetry and all of the drama of Christmas. Indeed, the divine power is made manifest in weakness, for the divine power is nothing other than love, giving oneself away, being bound to the other, becoming food for those around you.
Finally, alongside the single angel there appeared an entire army of angels. We should not get sentimental about these angels. These aren't cute, chubby babies playing harps. They represent the army of heaven, which is more powerful than all of the armies of earth. The Prince of Peace has an army that is more powerful than anything that is in the world.
There are the glad tidings of Christmas. A new king has come, bringing with him an army of heavenly messengers, and he intends to bring peace and unity to the nations.