The Nativity of the Lord
Scriptures for the Four Masses:
Vigil Mass: Isaiah 62:1-5 + Acts 13:16-17,22-25 + Matthew 1:1-25
Mass during the Night: Isaiah 9:1-6 + Titus 2:11-14 + Luke 2:1-14
Mass at Dawn: Isaiah 62:11-12 + Titus 3:4-7 + Luke 2:15-20
Mass during the Day: Isaiah 52:7-10 + Hebrews 1:1-6 + John 1:1-18
And the Word became flesh / and made his dwelling among us, / and we saw his glory ….
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references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church cited for this Sunday by the Vatican’s Homiletic Directory:
CCC 456-460, 466: “Why did the Word become flesh?”
CCC 461-463, 470-478: the Incarnation
CCC 437, 525-526: the Christmas mystery
CCC 439, 496, 559, 2616: Jesus is the Son of David
CCC 65, 102: God has said everything in his Word
CCC 333: the incarnate Christ worshipped by the angels
CCC 1159-1162, 2131, 2502: the Incarnation and images of Christ
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It’s telling that the Gospel passage on Christmas morning is repeated just six days later, on December 31. This Gospel passage speaks to the beginning and end not only of our salvation, but in fact of God’s entire work of creation.
The English author G. K. Chesterton wrote in his book The Everlasting Man that: “Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether he likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of unknown strength that sustains the stars. His instincts and imagination can still connect them, when his reason can no longer see the need of the connection; for him there will always be some savour of religion about the mere picture of a mother and baby; some hint of mercy and softening about the mere mention of the dreadful name of God.”
Chesterton was a master of paradox, and through paradox he insightfully explained the depth of the Christian mysteries. Christmas and Easter are intimately related to each other, by means of a divine paradox: Christ was born for us, so that He might be able to die for us. Christ rose from the dead so that you and I might find the strength to die, so as to live forever.
The great Anglo-American poet T. S. Eliot captured this paradox in his poem titled “The Journey of the Magi”. Towards the end of this poem one of the Three Wise Men asks, many years after the epiphany they had witnessed: “were we led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a birth, certainly, We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, But had thought they were different; this Birth was Hard and bitter Agony for us, like Death, our death.”
May this Christmas Season lead you to the gift of dying to everything in this world.