Our first reading returns us to Isaiah, who has perhaps more to say about Jesus than anyone else in the Old Testament. The first line sets the mood for his message today: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings." Isaiah is addressing Israel here, and Israel has suffered a lot under bondage to foreign nations. In their physical suffering and bondage, they represent our spiritual position before Jesus came. Before Jesus, we were captive to sin and death, with no way out. There was no way we could save ourselves. We needed someone to come to us, to come bringing glad tidings, to come and say to us "Your God is King." And if God is King, king of the here and now and not just a god in a far off heaven, then he cares about my spiritual enslavement, and if he cares he's going to save me from it. God refused to let death have the last word, and so, as our reading tells us, he "bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God." Isaiah announces of years before Jesus that not only does God care about your physical suffering, he cares about your spiritual predicament as well, just as real and just as important, and he's going to save you.
This idea that Jesus is the Word of God brings us to our Gospel reading. This reading is from the beginning of the Gospel of John. Now John's gospel is different from the other three. The other three gospels were written early, and they kind of say "Jesus did this, this, and this, and it was awesome." John's gospel was written later, so there had been a lot of prayer and reflection on who Jesus was and what he meant. John's gospel is like a fine wine of the gospels: it's matured, it's aged to perfection, and to read it, it's clear that the author knows what he's doing.
As we follow this reading through, it continues to teach us about what this Word is like. It is a light shining in the darkness, the darkness cannot overcome it, John the Baptist testified to this light. This Word, this light, this person, has been in the world and the world, "the world came to be through him," and yet the world has not recognized this Word. Through the partial and various ways of the past, the world failed to recognize God's love message to us.
Having reflected on the eternal implications of this birth, we realize that it really is all about God's love for us. Today we experience that love of God while surrounded by family and friends. We realize that distant concepts like light and darkness, prophecies and eternal Word, are made tangible and real in the love we experience each and every day. The love of our families, like the love of family that Jesus experienced, is where we experience the eternal God. Today we try to make some small return on that magnificent love that God has shown us by loving those around us. The birth of Jesus is the greatest communication ever of God's love to us. We respond by loving him back, present in our brothers and sisters. A blessed Christmas to you.