Monday, January 1, 2024

Christmas Octave: “He Was Named Jesus”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! [Image: Fra Angelico, 15th century]

Today marks the Eighth Day of Christmas, the culminating day in the “Octave” of the Christmas celebration, which the current Roman liturgical calendar dedicates especially to Mary as Theotokos—Mother of God. As today’s gospel reading indicates, the eighth day was the day of circumcision for all male children of Israel, the “sons of Abraham.” During this past week—while also marking other traditional saints’ days—we have “remained” to ponder the mystery of the birth of Jesus, Son of the Father, true God and true man, coming forth from the womb of His Virgin Mother. We remain with the shepherds, and with those who heard the news from them—the simple people, humble people, poor people who were among the first to look upon the face the the Word-made-flesh.

Like them, we too should be amazed. The presence of Jesus here and now fills us with wonder and gratitude. And Mary, “who kept all these things” and “reflect[ed] on them” keeps us too “in her Heart,” bringing us closer to her son Jesus.

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. When eight days were completed for his ­circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:16-21).