Monday, 24 December 2018 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 1 : 1-25

This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon.

Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah’s wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings : Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah.

Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus Who is called the Christ – the Messiah. There were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, and fourteen generations from David to the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to the birth of Christ.

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us. When Joseph woke up, he did what the Angel of the Lord had told him to do, and he took his wife to his home.

So she gave birth to a Son and he had not had marital relations with her. Joseph gave Him the Name Jesus.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Matthew 1 : 18-25

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us. When Joseph woke up, he did what the Angel of the Lord had told him to do, and he took his wife to his home.

So she gave birth to a Son and he had not had marital relations with her. Joseph gave Him the Name Jesus.

Monday, 24 December 2018 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 16-17, 22-25

So Paul arose, motioned to them for silence and began, “Fellow Israelites and also all you who fear God, listen. The God of our people Israel chose our ancestors, and after He had made them increase during their stay in Egypt, He led them out by powerful deeds.

After that time, God removed Saul and raised up David as king, to whom He bore witness saying : I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all I want him to do.

It is from the descendants of David that God has now raised up the promised Saviour of Israel, Jesus. Before He appeared, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for all the people of Israel. As John was ending his life’s work, he said : ‘I am not what you think I am, for after me another One is coming Whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.'”

Monday, 24 December 2018 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 4-5, 16-17, 27 and 29

You said, “I have made a covenant with David, My chosen one; I have made a pledge to My servant. I establish his descendants forever; I build his throne for all generations.”

Blessed is the people who know Your praise. They walk in the light of Your face. They celebrate all day Your Name and Your protection lifts them up.

He will call on Me, “You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.” I will keep My covenant firm forever, and My love for him will endure.

Monday, 24 December 2018 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 62 : 1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, for Jerusalem I will not keep silent, until her holiness shines like the dawn and her salvation flames like a burning torch. The nations will see your holiness and all the kings your glory. You will be called by a new name which the mouth of YHVH will reveal.

You will be a crown of glory in the hand of YHVH, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will you be named Forsaken; no longer will your land be called Abandoned; but you will be called My Delight and your land Espoused. For YHVH delights in you and will make your land His spouse.

As a young man marries a virgin, so will your Builder marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so will your God rejoice in you.

Monday, 24 December 2018 : 4th Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the joy of the expectation of God’s coming glory and salvation for His people, as we are about to celebrate the vigil of Christmas tonight. Today, the Scripture readings help us to reflect on the true joy of Christmas, that is the expectation of the coming of the salvation in our God, Who has come into the world, in the person of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Heir of David and Messiah or Saviour of all.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard of the conversation between the prophet Nathan and king David of Israel, during the latter years of his reign, after God has helped him to defeat all of his enemies and conquered the neighbouring peoples who once were threats to the Israelites. David wondered why he was housed in a magnificent palace, and yet, God’s Ark of the Covenant, remained in a tent, the Holy Tent of Meeting.

So David wanted to build a house for God, a Temple, for the Ark to be placed inside, as the sign of God’s presence among His people. He presented his plans before the prophet Nathan, but God had a different plan in His will, which He revealed through Nathan to David. David would not be the one to build a house for Him, but rather a son of his, who would reign after him, would be the one to build a house for Him.

This seems to be fulfilled by the son of David, king Solomon, who built for God a great Temple, known in history as the Temple of Solomon, built from the finest material and consecrated with a great ceremony, as written in the Book of Kings. The Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Temple, and God’s glory and presence entered into the Temple, filling it, and ever since then, until the destruction of the Temple in the year 586 BC by the Babylonians, God was present among His people Israel.

But the Lord in fact also alluded to the promise which He has made to David, that his house and descendants will reign forever, and his kingdom will never end. This was fulfilled because one of the descendants of David, through Joseph, his direct descendant and heir after many generations, was none other than the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, Heir of David and his kingdom.

Jesus Himself mentioned before the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, how He would destroy the Temple in three days and then rebuild it again, alluding to Himself as the true Temple of God’s glory and presence. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did not understand this, and thought that it would have been impossible for Jesus to tear down the physical Temple of Jerusalem, the second temple built at the site, by the priest and prophet Ezra and later enlarged by king Herod.

The Lord Jesus Himself is the one and only Temple of God, for by His incarnation, He took up for Himself a human existence in the flesh, that in His person, is united two distinct and yet indivisible persona of the divine and the man, His divinity and His humanity, perfectly united in His person, Our Lord Jesus Christ, both Son of God and Son of Man. He is the Heir of David, and as God said to David through Nathan, his heir would be the one to build the Temple for God, and this was fulfilled completely in Christ.

Thus, at that time, king David could only anticipate and look forward for the coming of the Lord, which he could not witness during his own time, and yet, through the Holy Spirit, was told to him. The Messiah, God’s Saviour would be born into his house, among his descendants. And that coming of the Messiah was awaited by all those who have been enthralled by sin, that is all of us mankind.

Then, Zechariah, the father of St. John the Baptist was the one whom we heard from in the Gospel passage today, in his song, inspired and filled by the Holy Spirit, also known as the Canticle of Zechariah. It was a song expressing a great joy, of knowing that the Messiah Who has been long expected and awaited by God’s people, was finally about to come, and how great Zechariah’s joy, of being able to witness that glorious event, and having his own son as the herald for the coming of the Messiah.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what the Scripture readings today presented us, is the great joy that accompanies our celebration of Christmas, not because of all the parties, shopping and goods, all of the merchandises and Santa Claus, as well as any other secular and materialistic celebrations of Christmas, but instead that hope and light that had come with the coming of Christ into this world, that through Him, all of us who believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.

Let us all today, as we finish our preparation to welcome Christ into our midst this Christmas, turn towards God with all of our strength and with all of our hearts and minds focused on Him. Let us celebrate this Christmas with Christ Himself at the centre of our celebrations and as the source of our great joy. Let us all have a meaningful Christmas, knowing that through Him, we can hope again and receive eternal life and glory from Him Who loves us all.

May the Lord bless us and our Christmas joy, and may all of us come to greater realisation of the true meaning and importance of Christmas for each and every one of us. Amen.

Monday, 24 December 2018 : 4th Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 67-79

Zechariah, filled with Holy Spirit, sang this canticle, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has come and redeemed His people. In the house of David His servant, He has raised up for us a victorious Saviour; as He promised through His prophets of old, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of our foes.”

“He has shown mercy to our fathers; and remembered His holy covenant, the oath He swore to Abraham, our father, to deliver us from the enemy, that we might serve Him fearlessly, as a holy and righteous people, all the days of our lives.”

“And you, my child, shall be called prophet of the Most High, for you shall go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him, and to enable His people to know of their salvation, when He comes to forgive their sins. This is the work of the mercy of our God, Who comes from on high as a rising sun, shining on those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, and guiding our feet into the way of peace.”

Monday, 24 December 2018 : 4th Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29

I will sing forever, o YHVH, of Your love, and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

You said, “I have made a Covenant with David, My chosen one; I have made a pledge to My servant. I establish his descendants forever; I build his throne for all generations.”

He will call on Me, “You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.” I will keep My Covenant firm forever, and my love for Him will endure.