25 Christmas – Midnight (19:00 and 24:00)
Well known history of The Christmas Truce of the I World World
The Christmas truce of 1914 is one of the most remarkable incidents of World War I and perhaps of military history. It lasted as long as a week, and took place despite orders that those who fraternized with the enemy would be shot.
It is the Christmas Eve 1914. not far for Ypres in Belgium in the trenches the soldiers of two armies German and English are preparing their first Christmas celebration out of their countries. English soldiers get from the 17 years old princess Mary nice boxes with candies and cigarettes, German soldiers get also the gifts of chocolates and cigars from their Kaiser Wilhelm.
British Daily Telegraph correspondent wrote that on one part of the line the Germans had managed to slip a chocolate cake into British trenches.
Even more amazingly, it was accompanied with a message asking for a ceasefire later that evening so they could celebrate the Christmas and their Captain's birthday. They proposed a concert at 7.30pm when candles, the British were told, would be placed on the parapets of their trenches.
The British accepted the invitation and offered some tobacco as a return present. That evening, at the stated time, German heads suddenly popped up and started to sing “Stille Naht”, “O Tannenbaum” and other German carols. Each number ended with a round of applause from both sides.
The soldiers started to go out of the trenches and to meet one another in no-man's land. Men exchanged gifts and buttons. In one or two places soldiers who had been barbers in civilian times gave free haircuts. One German, a juggler and a showman, gave a performance of his routine in the centre of no-man's land.
Captain Sir Edward Hulse of the Scots Guards, in his famous account, remembered the approach of four unarmed Germans at 08.30. He went out to meet them with one of his soldiers. 'Their spokesmen,' Hulse wrote, 'started off by saying that he thought it only right to come over and wish us a happy Christmas,
Scots and Huns were fraternizing in the most genuine possible manner. Every sort of souvenir was exchanged addresses given and received, photos of families shown, etc.
Finally they sing Latin carol „Adeste fideles”. For few hours peace won in the middle of the most atrocious War.
One, older German soldier asked:
“Why we can not simply cease this stupid and hopeless war and go home, to seat with our families and enjoy the nativity of Christ, Who is the King of peace?” Sergeant Tom from the Scots Guards answered: “You have to ask this question to your Keiser Wilhelm”.
And the German soldier reaction was: “No we have to ask first at all our hearts”.
I think that it is a good time for us to ask the same question in our hearts.
Why we can not simply cease this stupid and hopeless unending war in our lives, seat with our families and enjoy the nativity of Christ, Who is the King of peace?”
In our age of uncertainty, it is comforting to believe, regardless of the real reasoning and motives, that soldiers and officers told to hate, loathe and kill, could still lower their guns and extend the hand of goodwill, peace, love and Christmas cheer.
Are we able to do the same?
CHRISTMAS MASS, DAYTIME (A, B, C)
Readings: Isaiah 52:7-10 Hebrews 1:1-6 John 1:1-18
Gospel Jn 1:1-18 or 1:1-5, 9-14
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.
But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.
We use words as a way of communicating self. And there are many different kinds of words: superficial, deep, constructive, destructive, factual, emotional, funny, sad, encouraging, discouraging, loving, abusive...
God's Word is special. It is creative (as ours too can be). God's Word does not just communicate an idea. It is active; it brings things into existence. Everything that exists flows from the creative Word of God. In a special way it brings into being; it gives life.
When our hands are full of mercy and goodness,
when our lips are full with compassionate smiles,
when our hearts are pure, uncomplicated
and receptive like the crib in Bethlehem,
when our lives are honest
and our bread shared with the poor
Then into our homes will enter
the Blessing of the Newborn Child
and we will meet Him in all our brothers
and we will feel God's presence among us
and see His glory in our lives.
One Solitary Life
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book, He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn’t go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He has no credentials but Himself.
He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His garments, the only property He had on earth. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the Human race.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life.
Original essay by Dr James Allan Francis in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124 titled “Arise Sir Knight!”).