Gaudete Christus est natus ex Maria Virgine gaudete. A beautiful sixteenth century Christmas carol opens with this line inviting listeners to rejoice in the birth of the Christ – Rejoice Christ is born of the Virgin Mary, Rejoice! I first heard this beautiful, brisk carol while in seminary. Its catchy tune and repeating refrain are both difficult to remove from the mind once they are heard.
After our waiting throughout Advent, after lighting the candles of the wreath, we celebrate that God has chosen to send His Only Begotten Son into the world so that we may come to know His Fatherly love. We have waited with the Blessed Mother who waited for nine months as the child developed in her womb, and we have waited with God’s Chosen People, the Israelites, who waited for five hundred years for the coming of the Messiah – the descendent of King David who would restore the Kingdom and rule over God’s people forever.
The Christmas hymn Gaudete continues: The time of grace has come – what we have wished for; songs of joy let us give back faithfully. God has become man with nature marveling. The world has been renewed by the reigning Christ.
During the Christmas Season we marvel at the baby lying on a manger. He is small and helpless, much like us before the grandeur of creation. At the birth of Jesus the infinite touched creation to refashion it and restore it. As Jesus crossed an unbridgeable abyss and entered the world as a tender child, he enters into our souls on Christmas day proclaiming mercy, restoration and love. He stands at the door of our hearts and knocks, patiently waiting for you and me to open the door.
Therefore, let our assembly now sing in brightness, let it bless the Lord; Salvation to our King, concludes the very old carol. Christmas is a joyful time. Hope is renewed even in the midst of suffering, famine, war, and disease. The child sleeping in the manger has captivated generations of Christians filling us with a child-like expectation that despite difficulties, better times are near. The birth of Jesus Christ in the dark, still winter of Bethlehem is repeated every time that He is born in the heart of a repentant sinner or a faithful servant who renews his or her commitment to Christian living.
Every year I watch as hundreds of faithful visit our Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Savannah to marvel at the spectacular Nativity Scene. Children and adults smile in amazement at its size and beauty. It is intricate and unique, filled with both sacred and mundane scenes. While admiring it, one cannot help but to rejoice at the beautiful moment it captures – the birth of the Savior. These Christmas days are a moment to pause and rejoice that the Christ not only has come in history, but continually penetrates reality with his presence. Christmas can be found every day of our lives. Gaudete Christus est natus ex Maria Virgine gaudete.
Picture is mine, all rights reserved. Celebrating Mass at the Altar of the Crib in Bethlehem.