Lord, God of peace, who has created man, the object of your kindness, to be close to you in glory, we bless you and we thank you because you have sent us your beloved son, Jesus, making him the mystery of the pasch, the architect of all salvation, the source of all peace, the bond of true brotherhood. We thank you for the desire, the efforts, the realizations which your spirit of peace has roused in our day: to replace hatred with love, diffidence with understanding, unconcern with care. Open yet more our hearts to the needs of all our brothers and sisters, so that we may be better able to build a true peace. Remember, Father of mercy, all who are in pain, who suffer and die in the cause of a more brotherly world. For the men of every race, of every tongue – may your kingdom come: your kingdom of justice, of peace, of love; and may the earth be filled with your glory. Amen.
The Adoration of the Shepherds, by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622
The Birth of Jesus Christ
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered.
Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.
When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.
But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Mary and Joseph Seeking Refuge in Bethlehem, by Simon de Vos, 1664
The Birth of Jesus Christ
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.