Thursday, 24 December 2020 : 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.

Thursday, 24 December 2020 : 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.'”

Thursday, 24 December 2020 : 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.

Thursday, 24 December 2020 : 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.

Thursday, 24 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day on the last day before Christmas, the last of the season of Advent, we are yet reminded again of the Lord’s promise that He will be with us and provide for us just as He has promised and reassured His servants in the past, like how He had reassured David, the king of Israel as we heard in our first reading, and how through Zechariah, filled with joy at the birth of his son St. John the Baptist in old age, proclaimed the Lord’s glory and providence.

In our first reading today, we heard the Lord speaking through His prophet Nathan to king David, when the king had already been secure in his reign and the Lord had delivered to him the rule over all the Israelites and over their neighbours, after many wars and conflicts that happened earlier. King David wanted to build a proper House and Temple for the Lord’s presence and worship, as at that time, the Lord was still dwelling in the Ark in the Holy Tent of Meeting. He did not feel quite right that he dwelled in a great palace while the Lord dwelled in a mere tent.

But the Lord had a different idea and He told David that it would be his son, the king Solomon who would build the House and Temple of His presence, and thus was how the famous Temple of Solomon was built all those years ago. The Lord promised and reassured David at that occasion that his reign and throne will be forever secure, and all of these have indeed been fulfilled completely through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Heir of David and Saviour of the world, King of Israel and King of Kings born and celebrated on this Christmas day.

That is why, today, together with Zechariah’s joyful proclamation, as he was filled with the Holy Spirit, of the joy of seeing the Lord’s glory and salvation, we are called to reflect again on the joy of Christmas that we are going to celebrate beginning tonight and throughout the Christmas season. We have been preparing for this throughout this season of Advent, and we should ask ourselves whether we have prepared ourselves properly and well?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Christmas comes amidst a most unusual year and a most unfortunate moment for many of us. This year had been a very challenging one, as many people had suffered and even lost their loved ones to the pandemic, to the racial, social and national instabilities and troubles we have heard and witnessed throughout this year. Many are still suffering and indeed, not in a position to celebrate in any way this Christmas.

This is when our understanding and appreciation of what Christmas is truly about ought to be challenged and changed. Christmas should no longer be about ourselves, about our glamorous and lavish parties and revelries, of large gatherings and gift exchanges, and neither should Christmas be about those gifts and many other things usually associated with Christmas.

Instead of all these, let us all remind ourselves and one another that even in this darkness, all of us should and ought to celebrate Christmas indeed, with all of our hearts and with all of our might. Why is that so? That is because Christmas is the celebration of Hope, the coming of the Light of Christ that will dispel the darkness and the evils in the world, as what we know had happened through His coming into this world two millennia ago.

And then, even more significantly, the Lord promised us too that He will come again, and in Christmas we therefore do not just celebrate the past and historical coming of the Lord, but also the future coming of the Lord in the end of time, when the Lord will gather all of His beloved and faithful ones to Himself, and wipe away all of our tears and sorrows. There shall be no more suffering, pain and darkness, and only the light, hope, peace, joy and the love of God in the end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we look forward to this blissful time, and we should embody this attitude in our actions and in how we celebrate Christmas. This year, a most difficult year, is coming to an end, and so, let us now renew the hope in one another, by showing the Light of Christmas, the Light of Our Lord and Saviour in the midst of all these darkness, by celebrating Christmas with Christ at its very centre.

May the Lord bless our Christmas celebrations, and may He bless us always, in our every faithful and good endeavours. Let our Christmas be truly joyful and be truly blessed, and may God bless this darkened and sickened world, and may His light dispel all the darkness of our lives. Amen.

Thursday, 24 December 2020 : 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.”

Thursday, 24 December 2020 : 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.

Thursday, 24 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

2 Samuel 7 : 1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

When the king had settled in his palace and YHVH had rid him of all his surrounding enemies, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Look, I live in a house of cedar but the Ark of God is housed in a tent.” Nathan replied, “Do as it seems fit to you for YHVH is with you.”

But that very night, YHVH’s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell My servant David, this is what YHVH says : Are you able to build a house for Me to live in? I took you from the pasture, from tending the sheep, to make you commander of My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, cutting down all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great, as the name of the great ones on earth.”

“I will provide a place for My people Israel and plant them that they may live there in peace. They shall no longer be harassed, nor shall wicked men oppress them as before. From the time when I appointed judges over My people Israel it is only to you that I have given rest from all your enemies. YHVH also tells you that He will build you a house.”

“When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you; and I will make his reign secure. I will be a Father to him and he shall be My son. Your house and your reign shall last forever before Me, and your throne shall be forever firm.”