As a little boy, one of my favorite moments of the year was getting up early on Christmas morning, trying to get mom and dad out of bed so we could open presents.
As a priest, one of my favorite moments of the year is getting up early on Christmas morning, not to try to get mom and dad up, nor to open presents, but to celebrate one of the three masses of Christmas, the “Mass at Dawn”. I got up early this morning and went by myself to the chapel. It was a candlelight service until the rising sun lit the little altar with its glow. There weren’t any presents wrapped with bows, but there was one present, the present, baby Jesus himself coming down to earth in my hands. Just Him and me – life doesn’t get any better than that!
The Mass at Dawn is also known as the Mass of the shepherds since the Gospel you read is the story of the shepherds from Luke 2. I’ll leave you with a little Christmas present – a poem I wrote about one of the shepherds:
I cursed that eve the night watch fell to me,
For cold it was and dark the fields around.
On such a night fell wolves were bound to be,
And so I watched, until I heard the sound
Of harps and flutes and myriad voices telling
A tale that rocked me to my very bone.
A King was born, a story plainly spelling
That life was new, that we were not alone.
So to the cave I brought myself and flock,
And blessed those simple walls of barren rock,
And kissed his tiny, holy baby feet,
And he blessed me, and then he went to sleep.