There’s a generation just ahead of mine who can tell you exactly where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been shot. I can’t quite remember that moment, but I do recall watching the funeral and seeing a little boy salute his father’s casket as it passed.
I can remember where I was when Wayne Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles. I was in Edmonton, in a mall, watching a crowd gather outside of a television store watching the story play out on the screen; this was before Facebook and Twitter and text messaging, we had to get our news word of mouth and word had spread of the trade, and all of Edmonton seemed frozen in time for just a moment as the story played out.
And who of us couldn’t tell the story of exactly where we were when the first plane, and then the second hit those towers on September 11 almost 10 years ago? Only the very young; only the very young.
The words of the Gospel read at Mass at midnight: "In those days a decree came out from Caesar Augustus that all the world...all the world...be registered."
Notwithstanding that the world is a bigger place than the Roman empire, it wasn't a much bigger place. For all intents and purposes, it was the whole of the civilized world.
It's no coincidence that at the moment of the Messiah's coming every person in the world was asked to account for themselves. Every person in the world had to stand and be counted. Every person in the world had to be in a specific place, the place of their birth. Every person in the world, such as it was in Christ's time and place in history, knew exactly where they were, and all of humanity accounted for themselves at the moment the Messiah came into the world. Never before in human history has this happened, and never since; yet.
When He comes again each of us will account for ourselves as did the whole world the first time.
Merry Christmas. Let's get busy getting prepared for the next time we're asked to stand and be counted.