The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory. We have focused on the Midnight Mass Gospel Text, hopefully you will find it helpful for all Christmas day gospels
vs.1 Now at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken.
vs.2 This census – the first – took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria,
vs.3 and everyone went to his own town to be registered.
vs.4 So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judaea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line,
vs.5 in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
vs.6 While they were there the time came for her to have her child,
vs.7 and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn.
vs.8 In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night.
vs.9 The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified,
vs.10 but the angel said, “Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people.
vs.11 Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
vs.12 And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
vs.13 And suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing:
vs.14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace to men who enjoy his favour.”
We have four sets of homily notes to choose from.
Please scroll down the page to read them.
Michel DeVerteuil : A Trinidadian Holy Ghost Priest, director of the Centre of Biblical renewal .
Thomas O’Loughlin: Professor of Historical Theology University of Nottingham NG7 2RD : Liturgical Resources for Advent& Christmas Years A,B, and C
John Littleton: Director of the Priory Institute Distant Learning, Tallaght
Donal Neary SJ: Editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger
Michel de Verteuil
Lectio Divina with the Sunday Gospels – Year A
“Nothing happens before its time.” Trinidadian saying
Lord, we pray for those who are involved in lofty projects and are becoming impatient:
* parish youth leaders who are not getting co-operation;
* a new party that has won no seats in the elections;
* parents who are trying in vain to dialogue with their teenagers.
Help them to remember Mary and how when the time came
For her to have her child she gave birth to a son.
She was at peace, felt no great concern that there was no room for them in the inn,
Merely wrapped her child in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger.
Lord, these days we are all very busy.
At work or in school we have to expend much effort to achieve success.
At home we are bombarded with information from television and radio.
We have time only for the sensational
and we allow the oridinary events of life to come and go:
• the signs of maturity in our children;
• the life crises of those close to us;
• new stirrings of resentment or of hope among ordinary people in our country.
Even in our relationship with you we concentrate on the miraculous
and the extraordinary, glorify and praise you
because things turn out exactly as we were told they would.
Mary teaches us on the contrary to see in every event a call to grow,
a sacred word you speak to us,
to be welcomed as a treasure and pondered in our hearts,
reflected on and integrated into our consciousness.
Lord, help us to be more like Mary.
“My cell will not be one of stone or wood, but of self-knowledge.” … St Catherine of Siena
Lord, we thank you for all the contemplatives in the world,
those in enclosed convents, and those called, like Mary,
to live in their families and in secular surroundings.
While others chatter and repeat endlessly what they have been told,
these, like Mary, know how to be silent,
treasuring things and pondering them in their hearts.
3. Thomas O’Loughlin,
Liturgical Resources for Advent and Christmas
1. The homily today always seems to be inadequate: the festival is bubbling over with symbols of the season (holly, ivy, Santa, and whatnot) and with people’s heightened emotions on the big day. Moreover, the mystery that one has to speak about is so much more than anything capable of being put into words that anything actually said seems paltry and trite. Yet the day still needs a word. The day needs to have its focus drawn to the mind as well as to the senses. And, there may be many there in the assembly today who will never hear the word from one end of the year to the other, and to them alone is owed the duty of preaching. The task is to take the theme of God-with-us and present it in such a way that (1) the homily can be followed using a framework already familiar to the audience; (2) that seems appropriately seasonal; and (3) that has a certain lightness suited to holiday time.
2. Here is a strategy that can produce a short homily that is easy to follow.
The individuals who make up the congregation are asked to imagine where they stand in the array of people that are mentioned in the Bethlehem scene.
3. Do you imagine yourself as one of the people inside the inn?
For this group the birth of Jesus is an irrelevance: it does not touch them and they show no interest. To them it was just an external knock on the door, and they just kept going on with what they were doing. Then as now, this is the majority of people.
4. Do you place yourself among the shepherds? Here are people who are open to wonder. They can accept good news. They are people who are already part of a faith tradition, they shared the practices, hopes, and fears of the people, but were also ready to respond with faith to the voice of God.
5. Do you imagine yourself as one of the wise ones, the kings, who came from the east? These are people who are dedicated to searching out the great human questions, but they are not just engaged in idle speculation: they set out and searched for the truth. They listened to the promptings of conscience; they did not come empty handed. These are dedicated searchers after the truth and conscientious doers of the good. All their talents they are placing in the service of God-withus.
6. Do you imagine yourself like Joseph: caring for the welfare of the church, working in the community, taking on special responsibilities towards the Word made flesh. He is helping to make the good news known, and prepared to response to the inner call of vocation.
7. Do you imagine yourself as sharing in the vocation of Mary? She first brought the Anointed One into the world; but it is through us that Jesus enters our world.
8. We are all at the birth scene: each of us is called upon to fulfill all these vocations in varying ways.
Journeying through the Year of Matthew
Thankfully, many of us are lucky enough to open gifts every Christmas Day. These gifts are signs of respect, affection and love for the person or people to whom they are given. They are normally given without any conditions and, occasionally, they are important tokens of gratitude.
Christmas may be described as encapsulating several significant themes: for example, homecomings, festive celebrations and holidays from school and work. Nevertheless, it is fundamentally about the greatest gift that humankind could receive from God after the most basic gift of creation and life itself: the gift of redemption from the consequences of sin, which has entered the world and human history in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
It is always fascinating to watch young children opening their Christmas presents. They usually do so with great excitement and much impatience. In their eagerness to discover what gifts they have received, they often tear off the wrapping paper and packaging, casting them aside and disregarding them as if they were not part of the presents.
Although understandable, their enthusiasm is insensitive to the people who took so much care choosing appropriate wrapping paper and carefully folding the edges to ensure that the present looked perfect. No offence is ever taken, though, because adults love to see the innocence of childhood in such anticipation and excitement.
Basically, then, there is much more to giving a present than the gift itself that lies under several layers of wrapping. There is also the selection of suitable packaging and the extra care taken when parcelling. Frequently, too, there is the specially chosen card that has a significant message written on it. All these extra layers are as much part of the gift as what is found inside. But it is possible that their meaning is overlooked in the rush to get at the gift.
There is a crucial lesson here for us about how we welcome the newborn infant Jesus. He is the fulfilment of God’s promise to send the Messiah. But his coming into the world was carefully choreographed by God the Father so that people would be properly prepared for his arrival. The various layers of wrapping are the details of the unfolding story of salvation history over many centuries.
For instance, Jesus, the gift of our heavenly Father, was carefully anticipated by the long series of Old Testament prophets, culminating in John the Baptist, who spoke faithfully about his impending arrival and challenged the people to undergo repentance for their sins. Similarly, Jesus’ birth was heralded to the world by the angels who sang ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to people who enjoy his favour’ (Lk 2:14).
Amidst the excitement and confusion associated with Jesus’ birth, we learn that his mother, Mary, ‘treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart’ (Lk 2:19). She acknowledged that God had done great things in her life, as we recite in the famous Magnificat prayer (see Lk 1:46-55). None of the many layers of wrapping had gone unnoticed by the mother of Jesus. She never forgot the goodness of God and the tremendous blessing that he had given, not only to her but to his Chosen People.
As we go home from Mass today, let us remember to notice everything about the presents that we receive from those who love us. In thanking them, let us acknowledge their efforts in surrounding their gift with layers of love that are symbolised in the wrapping and packaging.
Then let us, like Mary the mother of Jesus, ponder the wonder of what God has done for the human race by sending his only Son among us to save us from our sins. In doing so, let us recognise how God deliberately, carefully and lovingly prepared the world and its people for this great day.
No one has ever seen God;
it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
Donal Neary SJ
Gospel Reflections for Sundays of Year A: Matthew
Welcome to God and from God
Most homes have a crib of some sorts;it is dart of our Christmas. It brings the mystery of the birth of Jesus into our homes.Some church cribs have an open front – a sign that all are welcome. Many people feel unwelcome in the church – people in second or other relationships that cause questions, people who have been through crime or other or in prison, people in addiction, families who feel worse for what some family members have done, people of homosexual orientation, former priests or religious. Like the shepherds at the first crib, all are welcome. The church welcomes all at this time of year, and indeed always. May we welcome all as God does, with the compassion and love that of God?
Christmas reminds us to deal with each other in love and compassion. Someone was very harsh on someone when speaking to me recently. I just said, ‘God loves him and I would prefer to b with God on this one’. Just as we take a while to know the full story of Jesus, we take a while to know to know the full story of everyone.
We pray at the Mass that we may come to share the divinity of Christ who comes to share our humanity.
Remember those you to pray at Christmas;
Pray with your breathing – with every outbreath
Simply say a name you wish to remember in prayer.
And maybe pray this sufi prayer:
Your light is in all forms, Yor love in all beings,
Allow us to recognize You/ in all your holy names and forms.