24th December. Christmas Eve
First Reading: Book of Isaiah 62:1-5
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
Second Reading: Acts 13:16-17, 22-25
Paul stood up and with a gesture began to speak: “You Israelites, and others who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it.
When he had removed him, he made David their king. In his testimony about him he said, â€˜I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes.’ Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised; 24 before his coming John had already proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his work, he said, â€˜What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on his feet.”
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Sharing a great mission
God willed that own eternal Son would be the Saviour of the entire human race. In the lavish language of Isaiah, we hear about him that the “The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.. ” To save us is why he came! In order to do so, in the loving providence of God, he elected to take on our humanity, fully and in the flesh, by being born of a mother!
That was Mary’s role and mission: to be the mother who served God’s saving plan. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, “To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to her role. The angel Gabriel salutes her as ?full of grace? – totally ready for her great mission in life.
As God prepared Mary for her role and mission, so are we too prepared for what is asked of us. This principle — that God prepares those whom He chooses for their role and mission — is true for everyone who is prepared to serve God. We are chosen and called to holiness. God has prepared us for works of service and of live; by giving us Jesus to be our Lord and guide, by calling us to the saving waters of Baptism, by giving us the support of the Church and its Sacraments, and by strengthening us to cooperate with His saving will.