All of us who will attend Midnight Mass tonight at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada know the story of Jesus’ birth, “Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, (Thanksgiving/ Eucharist) to the city of David (beloved) that is called Bethlehem, (Beth/house, of Lechem/bread.
He was of the house and family of David…While they were there, the time came for her to have her child. She gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger/feeding trough, as at Mass; there was no room for them in the upper room.
In Luke, in the story of the Good Samaritan, the word for “Inn” means a place where people who do not know each other board for the night. The nativity and the Last Supper use a different word meaning the upper room, the room where people purify themselves. Luke ties the beginning of his Gospel, the nativity, with its end, with his choice of words to describe the inn. In the nativity, Joseph and Mary’s own people, the people who purify themselves do not have room for the Messiah, the Son of God himself. The questions are, “Is there room for Jesus in our upper room?” “Are we pure, or do we see the Messiah?”
As we prepare for the Eucharist at our Cathedral, we remember, Judea is Hebrew for Thanksgiving. The Greek word is Eucharist. Our Cathedral in Reno Nevada is our House of Bread/Bethlehem. Like the Shepherds/in Hebrew, the ones who see, we find Jesus in the feeding trough, the paten at Mass. Do we find room in our hearts to find this real presence of Jesus and all he represents as we look at the Sacred Host at Mass?
The Gospel relates, “This will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the messenger, praising God:”Thoughts in the highest are to God, on earth peace, to mankind good expectations/ thoughts.”
Following the Jewish tradition that is the foundation for the Passover, “Today,” does not refer to two thousand years ago, but today. The great sign the shepherds/the parishioners at our Cathedral, all Catholics and all Americans look for is in the baby on Neal Road, on Montello Avenue, and in the homeless man lying outside of our door. Today, the sign is Jesus Christ who identifies himself with the poor, those without adequate food, clothing, or shelter, in Matthew 25:31-46. Matthew 26:1 starts the Passion story. As we do to the least of our brothers, we do to Jesus; we participate in the Passion. The great sign is not up there but down here, in the body and blood of Jesus lying in the paten sitting on the altar. Is there room for him as we look toward the altar, the poor, and toward each other this Christmas season?