Sunday, 25 December 2022 : 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.

Sunday, 25 December 2022 : 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.”

Sunday, 25 December 2022 : 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!

Sunday, 25 December 2022 : 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.

Sunday, 25 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Mass at Dawn (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this morning of the Christmas Day, as we gather together to rejoice in the memory of the glorious coming and appearance of Our Lord and Saviour in the flesh, we are all reminded to give thanks to God for everything that He had done for us, all the love, generosity and kindness that He has shown us. He has shown us His great love, manifested and made real in Jesus Christ, His Son, Who was born from His mother Mary, ever Virgin, and came into our midst as the Emmanuel, God Who is with us, His beloved people. God did not abandon us to the darkness and destruction, but He opened for us the path of His eternal light and salvation by the incarnation of His Son in the flesh, that through Him He might save us all from the certainty of death and eternal damnation.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah the words of the Lord proclaiming His salvation to His people, calling upon all of them to return to Him and to be faithful once again to Him, as He Who loves His people will always be with them, and they shall once again be great and blessed as God has always intended. Back then, the fortunes of God’s people, the Israelites have been at a very low point because they had faced a lot of opposition, and the entire northern half of the nation of the Israelites, named the northern kingdom of Israel, had been crushed and destroyed by the Assyrians, who went to destroy their nation and as well as exiling many of the people away from their ancestral homeland to distant lands, all because of their sins and wickedness. They had been humbled and humiliated, because earlier on their pride and ego had led to their rebellion against God, and their wickedness in refusing to listen to His words and commandments.

The people of God had often rebelled and disobeyed against the Lord, refusing to listen to His words and reminders, persecuting and rejecting the prophets and messengers sent to them to remind them. They hardened their hearts to His words, and as such, they had to face the consequences of their wickedness and evils, and thus faced those great humiliations and punishments due to their sins. But it did not mean that God despised them, as the truth is that, God despised the sins that they have committed and not the people themselves. It was their persistence to remain in the state of sin, and their many sins which had led them to be punished and to face the consequences of their sins. But God never gave up on them, and He has always reached out to them again and again, nudging them to return to Him and to be reconciled with Him.

That is exactly the hope and encouragement that God hoped to show His people, by sending His Son into this world to be in the midst of His people, calling on them to return from their wayward way of life and embracing His way of righteousness and grace once again. God has shown His most generous love to us by reaching out to us and showing us the path and hope out of the eternal darkness and from the chasm and precipice of eternal damnation, because He wants us all to be liberated and free from our bondage to our desires, pride, ego and sins. As the second reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Titus highlighted to us, that God sent us the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to mark upon us the works of His mercy and love, to redeem us and draw us out of the darkness and into the light, to renew us and to strengthen us once again in His love.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the account od the birth of the Lord Jesus according to St. Luke, as the Holy Child was born in a small stable just outside Bethlehem, a Child born as predicted and prophesied by the prophets, from the Virgin. And the Lord announced the Good News to all the people through His Angels, who all sang in great joy, ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo!’, ‘Glory to God in the Highest!’ to the shepherds who witnessed all of that in the wilderness of Bethlehem in Judea. God announced the joy of His coming to the world, as truly, the salvation long awaited by His people and by all those who sought Him has finally come into this world, in the form of the Child born on the manger in Bethlehem, that day, over two millennia ago, which we now celebrate as Christmas.

God made Himself small and vulnerable as a Child, and as a Man like us so that through Him, and His sharing of our human nature and existence, He may bring unto us the perfection of love and obedience as our loving Shepherd and Guide, showing us what it truly means to be a disciple and follower of the Lord. Christ could have come as a conquering King and Mighty One, just as many believed or thought that He would have, but He chose to come to us in this way, because He wants to be the Mediator between us and our Heavenly Father, God in Heaven, becoming the Bridge through His Cross, suffering, death and resurrection, that bring us back to the Father, and reestablish the Covenant between Him and us, which had once been broken by our disobedience and sins. He became Man so that by uniting our human nature to Himself, we may see and receive the fullness of redemption and glory, together with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we enter into this glorious and joyful season of Christmas, are we willing and ready to commit ourselves anew to the Lord, Our God and Saviour? We are reminded this Christmas of the great Love of God made Man, and because He has made Himself approachable and His most generous love tangible and within our reach, all of us no longer wallow and suffer in the darkness and sin. We are reminded that God is and has always been with us, no matter whenever it is, and regardless of the highs and lows in our lives. The love of God personified and manifested in Christ is what we are celebrating this time and season of Christmas, and it is what we all need to focus and put emphasis on during this time of grace.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that this Christmas should be a reminder to all of us in living our lives that we may seek to become better Christians, and that we do not just be like nominal Christians, having faith in name only. How we celebrate Christmas is one of the way that this is reflected and shown. We can see just how easily we access the mostly secularised and hedonistic Christmas celebrations all around us are, and how even many among us Christians, we celebrate Christmas in the same way, with great excesses in pleasures, merrymaking and rejoicing, but one that is empty because Christ is not at the centre of all of our rejoicing and celebrations. Christ has often been forgotten and ignored at the celebration of His own birthday, and that is truly something that is sad at Christmas every year.

Many of us spent our Christmas busy in trying to outdo one another in celebrating our Christmas with parties and gift-exchanges, trying to have more of the celebratory moods and the feasting, focused primarily on indulging ourselves on the various goods and worldly excesses of the usual Christmas festivities. Many of us treat Christmas as a time of holiday and rejoicing, to gather back with our families and friends, and exchange various stories and experiences over good food and drink. Yet, again, we often ignored the Lord and did not leave Him any place in our hearts and minds, and leaving Him out of our Christmas rejoicing and merrymaking. It is not wrong to celebrate Christmas with great feasting and merrymaking, but we must not let those to distract us from the true meaning and purpose of Christmas.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore make good use of this time of Christmas to share the love of God which He has shown us to all of our fellow brethren, to all the people we meet and encounter, even to acquaintances and strangers. It is not a time to love ourselves and to immerse ourselves in our self-indulgence and excessive merrymaking. Instead, it should be a time for us to be more generous in the giving and sharing of our love and joy with others, especially with all those who are less fortunate and not capable of celebrating Christmas in the manner that we do. We should do our best to show others around us what Christmas truly means, and share whatever extra blessings and graces we have received, with those who have less or even none at all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this Christmas season, let us all continue to make good use of the time and opportunity in order to deepen our relationship with God, and to immerse ourselves in the celebration of God’s love and compassion, to return our focus and attention, and all of our Christmas celebrations and joy on Christ as the reason why we rejoice throughout this glorious and most joyful season. Let us draw ever closer to the Lord and His love, and let us all be ever more exemplary in how we live our lives from now on, and also in how we share the love of God with one another. May God bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Wishing all of us a most blessed and wonderful Christmas season for all of us and our loved ones. Amen.

Sunday, 25 December 2022 : 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.

Sunday, 25 December 2022 : 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.

Sunday, 25 December 2022 : 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.

Sunday, 25 December 2022 : 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.

Sunday, 25 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Midnight Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this night we celebrate greatly in the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, marking the glorious occasion of the birthday of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. On this night, after the whole entire month of the season of Advent, that we spent preparing ourselves to welcome the Lord, we finally have arrived at this moment when we rejoice wholeheartedly in great rejoicing and festivities, as we enter into this season and time of joy. Tonight, we truly sing from our hearts and minds, with the Angels of God and the innumerable saints, ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo!’, glory to God in the highest, praising Him for all that He has done for us, as He entered this world, becoming a Child for us, born and revealing to us the fullness of His love and ever enduring kindness.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah about the proclamation of the coming of the salvation from God, as Light has come from God to the people who have lived in the darkness, to illuminate their lives and their paths, restoring unto them their hope and strength. That prophecy also mentioned the time of liberation and freedom, as the light and salvation of God was revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, the Holy Child born in Bethlehem in Judea, the city of David just as the prophets had spoken about for a long time. That prophecy is a direct reference to the Saviour Whom God would send into the world, and He has indeed come in the person of Jesus Christ, the Holy Child born of His mother Mary, the Virgin who has given birth to a Son, that is none other than God Himself, Incarnate in the flesh, Emmanuel, God Who is with His people.

That is why we heard the very peculiar titles that the prophet Isaiah mentioned regarding this Holy One born to save all the people of God. His titles are ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Truly peculiar and interesting is it not? On a hindsight, people back then at the time of the prophet Isaiah and even at the time of the Lord’s birth would not have realised that it is none other than God Himself, willingly coming down to be with us, to dwell in our midst, although the hints and predictions had been aplenty. It was because until the Lord Himself revealed it all, they would not have realised the truth, and they would not have known the truth. But all of us today who have heard and received the fullness of truth, truly know Who it is that came that day more than two millennia ago, the birthday of Our Lord and Saviour.

After all, how can He not be the Divine Word Incarnate, if we heard the prophet himself saying about this One and this Child as Mighty God and Everlasting Father? How can the prophet referred to any man alive or coming in the future as God, if it is truly not God Himself coming to our midst in the flesh? He is the one and only Father and Creator of all, and this same One Who has created us all out of His perfect love, is the One born on Christmas, and Whom we are celebrating today and this entire glorious and joyful season of Christmas, remembering how His love for us led to Him coming to us in order to save us from impending destruction and damnation. He wants us all to be reconciled to Him, and because of all of that love, and the desire to save us, He has come into our midst, humbling Himself as a small, little Child.

God made Himself small and vulnerable as a Child, and as a Man like us so that through Him, and His sharing of our human nature and existence, He may bring unto us the perfection of love and obedience, showing us what it truly means to be a disciple and follower of the Lord. Christ could have come as a conquering King and Mighty One, just as many believed or thought that He would have, but He chose to come to us in this way, because He wants to be the Mediator between us and our Heavenly Father, God in Heaven, becoming the Bridge through His Cross, suffering, death and resurrection, that bring us back to the Father, and reestablish the Covenant between Him and us, which had once been broken by our disobedience and sins. He became Man so that by uniting our human nature to Himself, we may see and receive the fullness of redemption and glory, together with Him.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the account of the birth of Our Lord according to St. Luke, which I am sure we are all familiar about, telling us how St. Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem in Judea according to the census order of the Roman Emperor Augustus. That became the fulfilment of the prophecies of the prophets, as by Divine plan and will, the Saviour would indeed be born in the city of David, and through St. Joseph and his legal marriage to Mary, the Mother of God, Jesus Christ was born the Son and Heir of David, in the city of Bethlehem that day, more than two millennia ago. But what we also should take note is how, when the heavily pregnant Mary and St. Joseph came to Bethlehem, all the inns and accommodations there were full, and there was no place for them at all, so that they had to settle for a stable outside of the town, a place not even fit for human dwelling.

It was there that the Saviour of the world was born, not in palace made with the finest stones and adorned with gold, but amongst animals and shepherds, and Whose coming was announced to those same shepherds, with the bright Star of Bethlehem resting upon His birthplace, guiding the Three Magi or Wise Men to Him. The Lord loves each one of us so much that He became One like us, making Himself tangible and approachable by us, embracing our humble human existence and life, so that by His appearance and coming into our midst, He may show us the light of His hope and salvation, as something that is within our reach and something that we can approach without fear, reminding us of the great and ever enduring love that He has always had for us. God has never left us alone, and He has always desired that we find our way back to Him, calling us to return through His Son.

Yet, many of us have yet to acknowledge that call, and just as Mary and St. Joseph had difficulty finding any place in Bethlehem, how about us? Have we welcomed the Lord into our hearts and minds when He comes to us? Or have we been like those innkeepers and other accommodation places in Bethlehem that turned the Lord, His mother and foster father away, just because there was no place in them? Let us all look into our lives and our way of believing in God all these while, and especially also in how we are going to celebrate Christmas, not just today but for the entire season, and even beyond that. Are we so full of worldly things and preoccupations that we have no place at all for the Lord in our hearts and minds? And is the Lord even the focus and the reason why we celebrate Christmas?

Too often we can see all around us that Christmas celebrations have been centred not on Christ but on other things, and we see how people seek pleasures, joyful celebrations, merrymaking, parties and all kinds of activities that made them filled with revelry and joy, and yet, Christ was noticeably absent from all of the celebrations. That is unfortunately what happened in how Christmas is celebrated all around the world. Not only that but even among us Christians, have we been truly celebrating Christmas because we understand its significance and importance to us, or have we celebrated Christmas because we seek all of its festivities and joy, for our own selfish desires and wants? Have we celebrated Christmas not remembering Christ and all that He has done for us, because of His love for us?

Let us all therefore rediscover the true meaning of Christmas and do our best to return the Lord to the very focus and heart of all of our celebrations if we have not yet done so. If we have allowed our many temptations and distractions, worldly glamour and secularised Christmas focus to distract us from the true meaning of Christmas, let us now then return to the Lord once again and make Christmas once against about Christ. Christmas is also a time when we should imitate and follow in the loving example of Our Lord, in how He has loved all of us so dearly, that we too may love our fellow brothers and sisters, loving all those whom we encounter in life, our families and relatives, our friends and acquaintances, and even all those stranger we meet in our daily lives. It is also a time for us to share our joy and love, especially with those who are not as fortunate as us, in not being able to celebrate Christmas the way we could, and those who are bereft of hope and joy this season.

May all of us have a great and most blessed Christmas season, and may each one of us grow ever stronger in our faith and love for God, remembering all the love which He has shown us. Let us all reach out to one another and remind ourselves not to be distracted by worldly excesses, but instead, be inspired by God’s great love for us through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, that we too may be filled with His love and grace, and be the bearers of the true spirit and meaning of Christmas. May all of us be the beacons of God’s light, hope and truth in the world today, in whatever we do, and may God bless us all in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Blessed Christmas everyone! Amen.