In our second reading today you heard a letter from Paul to the Corinthians, and I would not be surprised if you knew absolutely nothing about the city of Corinth. Corinth was a cosmopolitan city. People flocked there from all regions of the Roman Empire. It was a center of government, of trade, of sports, and was also known as sin city.
It is a funny feeling today. We come into the Church that is still lively, but strangely different. The crib is back in storage, the wise men have returned to the east, the shepherds to their flocks, the angels have stopped singing, and the star has disappeared. Christmas is a memory.
Some years ago I saw a play called “Down Will Come Baby.” As the play opens, the husband is taking down the Christmas tree. Among the things that have been hanging on the tree, there is a model of the Christ child in the manger. Apparently, they had been given out at church, and almost everyone in the parish had one on their tree.
Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. Fortunately, most of us value the gift of family. We treasure it and understand its importance for both society and Church. We live in a fast-paced world, some with more than one job in order to make ends meet. It is so easy to get lost in our day to day living, and when that happens, we may neglect the family while we worked to provide for them.
Why all this fuss over the birth of a child in a small, insignificant part of the Roman Empire? What difference does Jesus make? To start with, His birthday marks the division of human history into B.C., before Christ, and A.D., Anno Domini, after Christ.
Christmas can sneak up on us while we are caught up in the mad whirl of shopping and parties, and then be gone without a trace. Too often, by the time December 25th arrives we are fed up with elves and reindeer, sick of Christmas music and tired of jaded decorations.
In today’s Gospel, we have an ironic scene. The irony was lost on most of the bystanders: God himself was standing a prisoner before a representative of the superpower of the day.