22 December 2023

Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday of Advent, Year B; Christmas Day



Alessandro Allori [Web Gallery of Art]

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”  (Luke 1:38; Gospel)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Luke 1:26-38 (English Standard Version Anglicised, India)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

The human being who came to life in her womb took Mary’s flesh, but his existence derived totally from God. He is fully man, made of clay — to use the biblical symbol — but comes from on high, from Heaven. The fact that Mary conceived while remaining a virgin is thus essential to the knowledge of Jesus and to our faith, because it testifies that it was God’s initiative and, above all, it reveals who the conceived being was. (Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus talk, 4th Sunday of Advent 2011).

Adoration of the Shepherds

Caravaggio [Web Gallery of Art]

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger (Luke 2:12; Gospel, Mass During the Night).

Christmas Day, Years ABC

The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord has four different Mass formularies, each with its own prayers and readings. Any of the four fulfils our obligation to attend Mass. These are:

 Vigil Mass, celebrated 'either before or after First Vespers (Evening Prayer) of the Nativity'; that means starting between 5pm and 7pm.

 Mass During the Night, known before as 'Midnight Mass'.

.Mass at Dawn.

 Mass During the Day. 

The readings from the Jerusalem Bible for the four Masses are all on one page but with links to each individual Mass. When you click on 'Readings' below from the New American Bible you will find links to the readings for each of the four Masses.

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel (Mass During the Night) Luke 2:1-14 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)  

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”


Léachtaí i nGaeilge 

From a Christmas Homily of Pope Benedict XVI

Again and again the beauty of this Gospel touches our hearts: a beauty that is the splendour of truth. Again and again it astonishes us that God makes himself a child so that we may love him, so that we may dare to love him, and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms. It is as if God were saying: I know that my glory frightens you, and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so that you can accept me and love me . . .

. . . The shepherds made haste. Holy curiosity and holy joy impelled them. In our case, it is probably not very often that we make haste for the things of God. God does not feature among the things that require haste. The things of God can wait, we think and we say. And yet he is the most important thing, ultimately the one truly important thing. Why should we not also be moved by curiosity to see more closely and to know what God has said to us? At this hour, let us ask him to touch our hearts with the holy curiosity and the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the Lord who today once more comes to meet us. Amen. (Opening and closing of Pope Benedict's homily, Midnight Mass 24 December 2012).

Tichá Noc (Silent Night in Czech)
Sung by Patricia Janečková

This recording was made about two years ago in the Catholic church in the Czech Republic where Patricia’s funeral Mass took place last October. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2022 and was only 25 when she died. May she rest in peace.

White Christmas
Words and music by Irving Berlin
Sung by Patricia Janečková  

The name of Christ is mentioned seven times in this song as is the Holy Sacrifice of Mass, since the word 'Christmas' means 'Christ's Mass', a name that goes back a thousand years in the developing English language.

Traditional Latin Mass

Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord or Christmas Eve 

The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 12-24-2023, if necessary).

Epistle: Romans 1:1-16. Gospel: Matthew 1:18-21.

Christmas Day

The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 12-25-2023, if necessary). Click on the circle in front of 'Missa prima', 'Missa secunda' or 'Missa tertia' for the specific Mass texts.

First Mass at Midnight

Epistle: Titus 2:11-15. Gospel: Luke 2:1-14.  

The Second Mass at Dawn

Epistle: Titus 3:4-7. Gospel: Luke 2:15-20.

Third Mass During the Daytime

Epistle: Hebrews 1:1-12. GospelJohn 1:1-14.

Adoration of the Shepherds (London)

Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art] 

And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger (Luke 2:16; Gospel, The Mass at Dawn). 


1 comment:

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Father Seán,
A wonderful season for Church goers...
The way Patricia Janečková sang is almost angelic—great choice for this post!
The heavens gained an Angel and we lost one...
Merry Christmas to you!