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, 25 December 2017 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Day (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this joyous day we finally come together to celebrate the Nativity or the birth of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who was born more than two thousand years ago in the quiet city of Bethlehem, in a small and dirty stable fit for animals, not for man, less so a king, and much less still for the King of kings. Yet, that was how He came into this world, a King Who came not to be served, but to serve.

This is the reality and the truth about Christmas, which is the moment when the King of kings and Master of the Universe willingly chose to become small, to be insignificant and to empty Himself, by humbling Himself beyond anything that we can possibly imagine, that the Lord and Saviour of this world should enter into this world in such a manner. And yet, it happened, and because of that, this world and all of us mankind has a new hope because of Him.

Christmas is much more than just all the festivities and celebrations that we see all around us, all the partying and merry-making we often associate with this joyous season and time. Christmas is a joyful time because it is about Christ, about the One Who came for us, and willingly entered this world for our sake, bearing the fulfilment of God’s long promised salvation and liberation from our fated destruction due to our sins.

Without Christ, our Christmas celebrations become empty and meaningless. And if we sideline Christ and replace Him with other things, as how the world commonly celebrate Christmas, in the secular and materialistic manner, then it is no different from any other forms of merry-making and seeking of worldly pleasures and excesses. Yet, that is sadly how many of us have been swayed and influenced by the society and the temptations around us.

How many of us actually put Christ at the centre of our Christmas celebrations and joy? How many of us prepare ourselves for Christmas and remember why is it that we rejoice in this momentous occasion of Christmas? How many of us actually spend some time to reflect on the importance of Christmas to ourselves, and took the necessary steps to prepare ourselves that we may celebrate Christmas worthily and with good understanding?

Many of us think of Christmas as a good time to celebrate together because of its numerous shopping opportunities, where we throng the shopping malls and other places where plenty of lucrative Christmas deals and discounts are being touted. Many of us then worry about what we are to buy, since there are so many options to choose from. We want to look good in front of others, and we adorn ourselves with the best of accessories we can get, and prepare the greatest and most lavish banquets and celebrations.

Yet, do we know that we are losing the point of our Christmas celebrations and joy? If Christmas is so much about ourselves, about our vanity and ego, then, we have wandered off too far away from a meaningful celebration of Christmas. It is often that we do not realise what Christmas is really about, and how significant it is to all of us, each and every one of us who are sinners, without exception.

Christmas by its nature cannot be separated and should not be celebrated without a clear link and understanding of its relation to Easter, the other great feast time of the Church. Without Christmas, Easter’s meaning is diminished and altered, and the same applies for Christmas, as without Easter, Christmas itself has no clear meaning and reason. For both of these great events in the Church gave the entire meaning to the work of God’s salvation, which He had done through Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, Whose birth into this world we celebrate this Christmas day.

Let us now spend some time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. What is Christmas truly about? Christmas is not the moment when Our Lord was conceived, for that happened the previous nine months from this date. Rather, as we all should know, it is the moment of Our Lord’s birth after He has spent nine months in the womb of His mother, Mary, born into the world, as the Divine Word of God, Son of God Most High, as announced by the Archangel Gabriel, and yet, by the power of the Holy Spirit and through Mary, He was also fully Man, as the Son of Man.

It is a core part of our faith and the teachings of the Church, that we believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, Who is part of the Holy Trinity, co-equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit as God the Son, but yet, having a human nature and existence, assuming the flesh and appearance of mankind, and born of a mother. He has two distinct natures, one that is His divinity, and the other that is His humanity.

Yet, these two distinct natures are perfectly and indivisibly united in one person, Jesus Christ. It is thus wrong to distinguish or to separate or treat Him as either man or divine without acknowledging the other. If Jesus is merely just Man, then His Blood and sacrifice offered for our sake during His Passion and death on the cross would not avail us, as no amount of mortal blood or offerings would have been able to redeem us from our sins.

If Jesus is merely just Divine, and not Man, then how would we explain His human traits and nature? He was born of a woman like that of any other men and women. He experienced sorrow and pain, and He was also tempted in His humanity by the devil in the desert. He wept for His friend Lazarus, and felt hunger and humanity’s other traits. All these pointed out to the fact that in Christmas, the Baby born and placed on the manger, is none other than God Himself, Who has appeared as Man, as one of us, fulfilling His promise that He shall dwell among us, Emmanuel, that God is with us.

God could have just saved us by His will alone. After all, He has created each and every one of us by the mere action of His will and His words. He spoke and everything came to existence. Yet, by the very action of His assumption of humanity, in Jesus Christ, He wanted to show all of us, the fullness and the perfect love He has for each one of us. Jesus Christ, the Baby Jesus born on Christmas day, is the love of God made tangible and visible, for God is Love and He has since then dwelled among us.

Christmas therefore is a truly joyful day and an event worth celebrating, and we all rejoice because God has loved us, and He has loved us so much that He had gone through all the trouble, to come into our world, and to be born through His mother Mary, that all of us may be able to see His love, through Christ, and by His loving sacrifice, the ultimate love He showed us from the cross, He saved all of us who believe in Him.

God has shown us His love, so that we who follow Him and believe in Him may also show love to one another. He came into this world as King, but He did not come to be served, but to serve His beloved people. His kingship is not one filled with pride and worldly ambitions, but instead it is a kingship of love. Thus, all of us rejoice this Christmas, because of God’s love for us, and consequently, we must, first and foremost, put the Lord at the centre of our Christmas celebrations.

Then, in order to make our Christmas celebrations more meaningful and worthy, we should also share the joy and blessings we have received with those who have less or even none. Let Christmas be a time for us to be more generous in sharing and giving, rather than a season of material excesses and excessive merry-making without regards for those who are suffering and lonely.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all embody the true spirit of Christmas, following the examples of Our Lord Jesus Himself. If God Himself has loved the world and all of us so much that He gave us the ultimate gift in the Baby Jesus, Our Saviour born and celebrated this Christmas day, then we should also love each other following His example. Let us all remember those who are in need, not just for material goods, but also, for love and attention. Let us not rejoice alone above the sufferings of others but let us share together the joy and therefore rejoice together this Christmas.

May the Lord bless us and bless our Christmas celebrations, that we may find true joy in Him and not in the pleasures that the world offered us and inundated us with. Let us draw ourselves closer to Him and do our best to live in accordance with His ways, that we may be reconciled with Him and find justification through He Who came in Christmas and Who will come again at the end of time to gather all of His faithful ones. May we then be counted among those worthy of His eternal glory. Have a blessed and wonderful Christmas everyone! Amen.

Monday, 25 December 2017 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Day, 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.

Monday, 25 December 2017 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Day, 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.”