25Dec The Nativity of the Lord

1st Reading: Isaiah 52:7-10

The joy of the watchmen, at seeing the Lord’s messenger

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news, who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.

Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.

The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

Responsorial Psalm 97: 1-6

R./: All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm
have brought salvation. (R./)

The Lord has made known his salvation;
has shown his justice to the nations.
He has remembered his truth and love
for the house of Israel. (R./)

All the ends of the earth
have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord all the earth,
ring out your joy. (R./)

Sing psalms to the Lord with the harp,
with the sound of music.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
acclaim the King, the Lord. (R./)

2nd Reading: Hebrews 1:1-6

The son of Mary is the eternal Son, through whom all things were made

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.” And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Gospel: John 1:1-18

John’s Gospel Prologue: the divine nature of the Word-made-flesh

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 into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John . He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he 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 into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

BIBLE

Lord of the welcomes

At Christmas more than at any other time, there’s a welcome on the mat. Many families have visitors home for Christmas; and we will surely be making a round of social calls, over the Christmas days. But among all the greetings and the welcoming of friends, there is one welcome of special depth and meaning.

For the people of the Old Testament, light and darkness held special significance. They tended to associate them often with virtue and wickedness in the community, and also with the day of the Lord’s coming. Indeed, at Qumran on the Dead Sea shoreline, during the life-time of Jesus, light and darkness were seen as two opposing kingdoms, and the sun’s victory over darkness was held to be a symbol of the triumph of faith over the blind pursuit of evil. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” So begins the Bible account of the first creation, and when it was ended, “God saw all that he had made, and indeed it was very good.”

This original goodness and justice was fragmented when our progenitors abused the freedom of will granted them by God, so that once again, as the prophet Isaiah says “darkness came to cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples.” (Is 60:2), To dispel this darkness, a new creation was needed, and the ideal of goodness and perfection became a living reality, when the light of Christ came into the world. .”The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; for those who lived in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.” (Is 9:2). For God, who had created humanity in his own image and likeness, had now identified with the human race, and by assuming the body of a human child, had come down among us.

The Christmas invitation is, Come to Jesus and feel welcome. No matter what what we’ve done, or how badly we may feel – he can help us become all that we’re meant to be: beloved sons, beloved daughters of God. Come to him… and yes, even if you feel that “churchy things” are not for you. “I don’t like organized religion” you mutter. OK, but Jesus want to open doors for you, not close them. To those accept him this Christmas day, he gives power to become children of God. It is he, our Lord Jesus Christ, who brings us here today. With his help we can make a new beginning as individuals, as family and as a parish. So let us say it again. Come to Jesus this Christmas Day. His mercy, from a heart aware of all human suffering, has no limit. To those who accept him he gives power to become children of God. Come to Jesus, and make this Christmas truly happy, in your heart of hearts.


Light shining in darkness

For the people of Israel, light and darkness were more than natural phenomena. They tended to associate them often with virtue and wickedness in the community, and also with the day of the Lord’s coming. Indeed, at Qumran on the Dead Sea shoreline, during the life-time of Jesus, light and darkness were seen as two opposing kingdoms, and the sun’s victory over darkness was held to be a symbol of the triumph of faith over the blind pursuit of evil. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” That’s how chapter one of the Bible begins to describe creation, and when it was ended, God saw all that he had made, and indeed it was very good.

But this original goodness and justice was to be shattered, because our first parents abused the freedom of will granted them by God, so that once again, as the prophet Isaiah says “darkness came to cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples.” (Is 60:2), To dispel this darkness, a new creation was needed, and the ideal of goodness and perfection became a living reality, when the light of Christ came into the world. .”he people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; for those who lived in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.” (Is 9:2). For God, who had created man in his own image and likeness, had now identified with the human race, and by assuming the body of a child in the image of man, had come down to become one of us.

It has become a tradition to associate snow with Christmas, and when it does come, shrouding everything with its white mantle, a stillness settles over the countryside, especially at night-time. That combination of darkness and stillness was the setting for the first Christmas. As the Book of Wisdom states, “When all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the middle of her course, your almighty Word leaped down from heaven, from your royal throne.” (Wis 18:14f). It was as if God was again saying , “Let there be light” – let the gloom and darkness, which exemplify the fallen and corrupt nature of the human race, be lifted, ushering in a new age of glory to God and peace on earth. And so an angel of the Lord appeared to some humble shepherds tending their flocks in the enveloping darkness, and the brightness of the Lord shone round them. “Do not be afraid,” the angel reassured them. .”Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

We too must listen, listen in the stillness of our hearts, and, like the shepherds, we must hasten, and with eagerness draw near to Christ. We must search for Christ, hasten to him with eagerness, and in the quiet times of prayer understand anew our need for Christ. St Augustine held that prior to conceiving Christ in her womb, Mary first conceived him in her heart, by her faith. The Church, too, is the Mother of Christ in that, by obedience to the will of God, she brings Christ into being in the world. But we, its members, are the Church, and so in some sense we too can bring Christ to birth, , in this spiritual way, by doing God’s holy will.


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