Saturday, 25 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Day Mass (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 1-18

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 were made through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in Him; life, which for human beings, was also light, light that shines in darkness, light that darkness could not overcome.

A man came, sent by God; his name was John. He came to bear witness, as a witness to introduce the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but a witness to introduce the Light; for the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone. He was in the world, and through Him the world was made, the very world that did not know Him.

He came to His own, yet His own people did not receive Him; but to all who received Him, He empowers to become children of God, for they believe in His Name. These are born, but not by seed, or carnal desire, nor by the will of man : they are born of God.

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we have seen His glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father : fullness of truth and loving-kindness. John bore witness to Him openly, saying, “This is the One Who comes after me, but He is already ahead of me, for He was before me.”

From His fullness we have all received, favour upon favour. For God had given us the Law through Moses, but Truth and Loving-kindness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God-the-only-Son made Him known : the One, Who is in and with the Father.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

John 1 : 1-5, 9-14

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 were made through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in Him; life, which for human beings, was also light, light that shines in darkness, light that darkness could not overcome.

For the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone. He was in the world, and through Him the world was made, the very world that did not know Him.

He came to His own, yet His own people did not receive Him; but to all who received Him, He empowers to become children of God, for they believe in His Name. These are born, but not by seed, or carnal desire, nor by the will of man : they are born of God.

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we have seen His glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father : fullness of truth and loving-kindness.

Saturday, 25 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Day Mass (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 1 : 1-6

God has spoken in the past to our ancestors through the prophets, in many different ways, although never completely; but in our times He has spoken definitively to us through His Son. He is the one God appointed Heir of all things, since through Him He unfolded the stages of the world.

He is the Radiance of God’s Glory and bears the stamp of God’s hidden being, so that His powerful Word upholds the universe. And after taking away sin, He took His place at the right hand of the Divine Majesty in heaven. So He is now far superior to Angels just as the Name He received sets Him apart from them.

To what Angel did God say : You are My Son, I have begotten You today? And to what Angel did He promise : I shall be a Father to Him and He will be a Son to Me? On sending His Firstborn to the world, God says : “Let all the Angels adore Him.”

Saturday, 25 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Day Mass (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, the Lord!

Saturday, 25 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Day Mass (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 52 : 7-10

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring Good News, who herald peace and happiness, who proclaim salvation and announce to Zion : “Your God is King!”

Together your watchmen raise their voices in praise and song; they see YHVH face to face returning to Zion. Break into shouts of joy, o ruins of Jerusalem, for YHVH consoles His people and redeems Jerusalem.

YHVH has bared His holy arm in the eyes of the nations; all the ends of the earth, in alarm, will witness God’s salvation.

Saturday, 25 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Mass at Dawn (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this morning as we gather together to celebrate this Christmas Mass at Dawn, all of us are called to reflect on the coming of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour as the bearer of God’s great light and hope, in His glorious coming and appearance in this world, born in Bethlehem of Judea over two millennia ago. As we heard in our Scripture passages today, the Lord proclaimed His most generous and wonderful love to us through the Nativity or the birth of His Son, Our Saviour.

In our first reading today, we heard of the passage from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, in which we heard the proclamation of God’s saving grace and His salvation to His people, how He would rescue them and deliver them from their troubles. God has always loved all of His people, that is all of us without any exception. All of us who are sinners are beloved by God and He wants us to be redeemed and be forgiven from our many sins, and that is why He gave us so great a deliverance by sending to us His Son, to free us from the tyranny of sin.

As St. Paul made it clear to St. Titus in our second reading today, God sent us His salvation through Jesus Christ His Son, through Whom His grace, blessings and forgiveness has come down upon us. Incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, by the power of the Holy Spirit, He has become for us the source of Hope and the fount of God’s most generous mercy. God’s compassion and love has been extended to us, and He has given us this most wonderful means to reach out to Him, that we are no longer going to be separated from Him anymore.

He came as the Child born in that stable, placed in a manger, a small Baby, the Son of Mary. He is the fulfilment of God’s promise of salvation and the long awaited Saviour of all. Yet, unlike what most people at that time would have imagined, He came not as a glorious conqueror or a mighty King, but rather as a small Child, weak and vulnerable, Who had no place to lay His head but on a dirty manger suitable only for animals there in the stable. He came into this world in a very simple and humble way, and although He is a King, but He was born not in a palace, but in a most unworthy of places.

If we remember the story of the Nativity of the Lord, we should remember how St. Joseph and Mary, who was then about to give birth to Jesus, were struggling as they reached Bethlehem after they travelled a long way from Nazareth in Galilee for the census ordered by the Roman Emperor. All the inns and lodgings were full and they were rejected at every places and at every turns. It was probably thanks to a kind person who helped and guided them to a stable located just outside the town of Bethlehem, the place where the Saviour of the world was to be born.

And it was there, amongst animals, sheep, cows, horses, goats and others that the Lord, the King of Kings was born. He was laid in the manger and revealed before the shepherds and others who witnessed His birth. Thus at that time, the coming of the Lord into this world was marked not by great celebrations and throngs of joy on Earth, but in quiet silence and in the presence of shepherds, with only Angels attending to the King, proclaiming His glory with the words, ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo! Glory to God in the Highest heavens!’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord has come into the world, to be in our midst and among us, so that He may deliver us from our sins. Much as how God has sent Moses to His people, the Israelites to deliver them from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, from their enslavement and humiliation, from their suffering and hard life there, the same He has done for us all through Christ. The Lord Jesus, by His coming into the world, He has delivered us all from the tyranny of sin, from our enslavement to those sins, and receive from Him the freedom and assurance of liberation from eternal death.

We are truly fortunate that the Lord has done such marvellous things for us, even when we are still sinners and delinquents, rebels who are often testing the limits of His patience. Any other men would have consigned us to destruction and abandon us to our fate. But that was not what the Lord had done, as His love for us remained even after all that we had done to Him, in abandoning Him and in disobeying Him. He still did all that He could to reach out to us and patiently caring for us, and by giving us Christ, His Son, He has given the most generous gift of all.

As we enter into this season of Christmas and as we are going to celebrate the festivities of Christmas, therefore let us all spend the time to reflect on what Christmas is all about, brothers and sisters in Christ. Is Christmas to us just like any other holiday, festivities and celebrations? Is it just about all the parties, the glamour and all the merrymaking, about the gifts and the goodies that we are going to receive and exchange with each other? Is it just another time for us to look forward to good food and good pleasures, happiness and joy of this world?

Or is it a time for us to remember once again just how fortunate for us to have been beloved so generously and wonderfully by God, so much so that He has given us His only begotten Son as Our Lord and Saviour? This is unfortunately not what many of us are doing, as many of us in our celebrations of Christmas do not even have Christ at the centre and as the focus of our celebrations and joy. Instead, what we have done is placing ourselves, our greed and ego, and our selfish desires instead as the focus of our Christmas celebrations. To do so is for us to rejoice without understanding the true meaning and significance of Christmas.

Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, all of us who should have been consigned to annihilation and eternal destruction have received new hope and lease of life through His love and grace, by His most generous love in coming to us and in reaching out to us, in looking for us sinners. He is our Good Shepherd Who has come to us, the lost sheep and gathered all of us, calling on all of us to follow Him and be lost from Him no more. He came to us and showed His love to us, only for many of us to shut Him out and ignore Him. Is that something that we should be doing, brothers and sisters?

That is why today as we begin our Christmas joy and celebrations, let us all return to the true roots of the meaning of Christmas. Let us all remember once again why we even rejoice this Christmas, and that is because Christ and His presence in our lives, even today. We rejoice because of the love we have received from Him, and as Christians, all of us are called to share this love with one another. Of course we have to love God first and foremost of all, but we also must not forget to love all those others whom God had placed all around us in our lives.

Let us all share the love of God and the joy we have received this Christmas, and be generous in giving and sharing especially to those who have little or none to celebrate with this Christmas. And instead of excessive revelry and merrymaking, let us all share in the true joy of Christ by reaching out to one another with the genuine faith in Our Lord and His salvation, and share His love and blessings in our everyday lives with those who need them the most. May God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, born and celebrated on this Christmas day, be with us all and may He continue to bless us and watch over us throughout our joyous Christmas celebrations. Wishing all of us a most blessed Christmas! Amen.

Saturday, 25 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Mass at Dawn (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 15-20

When the Angels had left the shepherds and gone back to heaven, they said to one another, “Let us go as far as Bethlehem, and see what the Lord has made known to us.”

So they came hurriedly, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger. On seeing Him, they related what they had been told about the Child, and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds.

As for Mary, she treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds then returned, giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the Angels had told them.

Saturday, 25 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Mass at Dawn (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Titus 3 : 4-7

But God our Saviour revealed His eminent goodness and love for humankind and saved us, not because of good deeds we may have done but for the sake of His own mercy, to the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit poured over us through Christ Jesus our Saviour, so that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs in hope of eternal life.

Saturday, 25 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Mass at Dawn (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1 and 6, 11-12

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are blameless, and give praise to His holy Name.

Saturday, 25 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Mass at Dawn (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 62 : 11-12

For YHVH proclaims to the ends of the earth : Say to the daughter of Zion, here comes your salvation! YHVH brings the reward of His victory, His booty is carried before Him.

They shall be called the holy people, the redeemed of YHVH; and you shall be called The Sought After, a city no longer abandoned.

Saturday, 25 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Midnight Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all rejoice together as after the long wait and expectation during the Advent season, we finally mark the beginning of the Christmas season, the time for us to celebrate in the glorious coming of Our Lord in the flesh, the Divine Word Incarnate, Son of God born into this world as the Son of Man through His mother, the Blessed ever Virgin Mary. He was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the city of David, as the fulfilment of the long awaited promise and assurance of God, Who has come to dwell among His people and to deliver them from their enslavement by the evil one and from the tyranny of sin and death.

In our first reading today, the Lord through His prophet Isaiah has spoken to the people, revealing how He would send them a Child, to be born of Man to them, in a great prophecy proclaiming the coming of God’s Saviour or Messiah. In that prophecy, God spoke of the coming of the time of salvation and liberation for His people, the Israelites, as He would gather them from among the nations and break the yoke of their oppressors and all of their enemies. He would send them a Child, the One prophesied to come, and His Name as proclaimed, would be Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

While the people of God back then could not have foreseen or known what these things truly meant, but to them it must have been strange for the words of the prophet Isaiah to have mentioned a Child born into this world and named such as Mighty God and Everlasting Father, for these were the titles that ought to be reserved to God alone. How could God descend and come down into this world as a Child, born of Man no less? How can the Almighty and Infinite God of the entire Universe and existence be contained in the Child or Son of Man?

Such is indeed the mystery of the Lord’s Incarnation, as He willingly came down to us, being Incarnate in His Aspect as the Son and the Word of God, incarnate in the flesh, willing into existence by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ the Son of Man, the Child born two millennia ago in Bethlehem of Judea, Who was truly Man, but also truly God at the same time, the Eternal God and King of us all. That Child born in Bethlehem is the King of all the whole entire Universe, Who has entered this world by His own will and by His enduring and amazing love for each and every one of us.

As St. Paul mentioned in our second reading today, in his Epistle to St. Titus, the Lord has given us all His grace and love through Jesus Christ, His Son born to us and which we celebrate this night at Christmas. He has entered our world, sharing with us our human nature and experiencing what we ourselves have experienced, so that we may be reconciled and reunited with Him, and this is all that the Lord had intended to do from the very beginning. Just as if we remember from the Book of Genesis, God said to Satan, the deceiver, that while he may have dominion over the sons and daughters of man, but through Woman, a reference to Mary, he would be conquered and defeated.

The Lord wants us to be reconciled to Him, but this will not happen unless we have been forgiven and cleansed from our sins. Sin is caused by our disobedience against God, and it sundered us off from Him, and as a result, we should have ended up falling into eternal damnation and suffering in hell. The Lord could very well have destroyed us from the very beginning, as creatures that had been defiled and corrupted by sin. But that was never His intention. His love for us is greater than His disgust for our sins and wickedness. To that extent, He committed Himself to us, by coming down to us, to be with us and to save all of us.

He Who is the Almighty Lord and King over all things willingly embraced our human nature to show us the way out of the darkness, reminding all of us of our true nature of being holy and perfect in God’s grace. This had been interrupted by the appearance of sin in our lives, and by the temptations that we face daily, and how we fell again and again to those temptations and ended up sinning against God. But God made Himself to be like us, to unite Himself to us and to act as a Bridge spanning the once uncrossable chasm that existed between us and God due to sin.

Christ is that Bridge, the One Who bears the Light of God’s grace and salvation into our midst. His coming into this world revealed to all of us just how beloved we are to the Lord, so much so that He was willing to make Himself small, to be born an Infant, a small little Child in Bethlehem just as we heard in the account of our Gospel passage today. He made Himself that little Child in Bethlehem, to show us what is meant for us to be beloved by God, and at the same time, also His desire to be loved by us. This Christmas is a great celebration of God’s most generous love for us, a love that overcomes sin and death.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we gather together in this celebration of the Christmas Midnight Mass, we are all called to reflect on the true nature of Christmas and why we rejoice so greatly and wonderfully not just tonight but also this entire Christmas season. The Lord has entered into the world and revealed to us His love in the tangible form of the little Baby Jesus in the manger, to be our Lord and King, gathering all of us to Himself. And in time, that same Child would also come to bear His Cross with the weight of our innumerable sins, which by His perfect obedience to His Father’s will and by His infinite love for us, He offered on our behalf the worthy sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.

That is why, it is sad that we have seen so many occasions in our Christmas preparations and celebrations, when Christ Himself has been sidelined and even forgotten as we have become accustomed to the more secularised way that Christmas has been celebrated. If we see all around us, in all the Christmas rejoicing and festivities, we rarely even see the Lord being part of any of the celebrations. Instead of the Child Jesus, we saw figures like Santa Claus, the elves and many other secular characters depicted throughout our Christmas parties and revelries.

It is like the birthday boy has been excluded and forgotten from his own birthday celebration, as Christmas rightfully is the celebration of our Lord’s Nativity or birth into this world. As we all know that in any birthdays, the most prominent person must be the person whose birthday we are celebrating, then the same should apply to Christmas as well. Have we prepared and celebrated our Christmas celebrations with Christ as the focus and the centre of our efforts? Have we placed Him at the heart of our merrymaking and rejoicing?

Or instead have we allowed the excesses of worldly pleasures, desires for satisfaction and even ego and pride to guide us in our Christmas celebrations? If we have done all these, then we really need to ask ourselves, what is Christmas and its meaning to all of us. We cannot treat Christmas just like any other holidays or festivities, and certainly it is not just a time for us to be merry and happy without knowing its true importance and reason. We rejoice especially because God has loved us so much, that as I mentioned earlier, He manifested His love to us in the Child Jesus.

God’s love made all of our rejoicing possible and we can rejoice because we know that through Christ, we have been assured the salvation and eternal life, and have been freed from the bondage and power of sin. Through our baptism we have been made sons and daughters of God Himself, through adoption by exactly Christ’s birth and incarnation in our human nature, as we all share with Him our humanity, and since He is the Son of God, we too therefore share with Him in becoming the adopted children of God, as members of His one Church, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we have lapsed and failed to prepare ourselves to understand the true nature and meaning of Christmas, and if we have not prepared ourselves to celebrate Christmas worthily, then it is still not too late for us to do so. This night’s Scripture readings serve as important reminders for all of us that we have to make our Christmas celebrations and joy a truly meaningful one. Let us all not waste this opportunity and instead do whatever we can in order to bring the light of Christ into this world, and be the witnesses of His love present in our midst.

Let us share the joy we have and all the blessings and wonders that we have received from God, especially with our fellow brothers and sisters who are unable to celebrate Christmas, as well as to those who are encountering hardships and sorrow in life. Let us bear the true light and hope of Christmas to them, and share with them the wonders of God’s love. May God bless us always and may His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, born and celebrated this Christmas day, guide us to the glory of everlasting life and grace. Wishing all of us here and everyone a most blessed Christmas! Amen.