The crowds stream into the church on Christmas day. Still twenty minutes before Mass is to start and already the pews are filled. Quickly the aisles are filled with those forced to stand. Latecomers are forced to pile into the vestibule; still others are forced to participate in the celebration in the cold.

Sitting in the pew waiting for Mass to begin, I hear congregants grumble about the “twice-a-yearers,” the folks who supposedly grace the steps of the church only on Christmas and Easter.

“Good thing we got here early to get a seat – the twice-a-yearers are out today.”

“Where will these people be next week?”

“It’s so hot and crowded in here. Why do these people even bother coming?”

“Look at all those people who don’t even have church envelopes.”

“I don’t even recognize half these people.”

“People are still coming – communion is gonna take forever.”

I confess to having been among the grumblers on occasion. Mass has not even started and already bitterness and judgment fill the church.

Soon enough, though, the words of the Gospel are spoken.

They tell the story of the birth of Christ. The unmarried woman who said yes to God when the angel Gabriel announced she was with child. The carpenter who took this soon-to-be mother as his wife. The lowly stable where the Son of God was born.

Did Mary judge God’s will for her?

Did Joseph judge Mary and her impending child?

Did the shepherds judge the stable as a place unfitting the arrival of the Savior?

No, they did not judge. Rather, they had faith.

And with faith comes the arrival of Christ.

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