Tuesday, 25 December 2018 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, after the long wait and expectation during the Advent season, today finally we come to the great celebration and joy that is Christmas, celebrating together as the whole Church, the occasion of the birth or the nativity, of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world and all of us. Today marks the day when more than two millennia ago, our Saviour was born in a stable just outside the small town of Bethlehem, as prophesied throughout the Scriptures.

On this day, we remember and rejoice at the moment when the world that has been enslaved for a long time by the power of sin and death, in darkness and separated from God’s grace and love finally saw the Light of its salvation, as Our Lord and King, in Whom lies our salvation, has come at last, fulfilling His promises and the Covenant He had made with us, from the beginning of time, all because of His love for each and every one of us.

It is the essence of true joy and love that is in Christmas, that the Scripture passages today have described His coming into the world, the Saviour Who is the Lord, His Word, the Son, Who is equal, consubstantial and co-eternal with the Father, has taken up the flesh and appearance of Man, of us all, and uniting it to His divinity, that after nine months in His mother’s womb, just as all other men spend nine months in their mother’s womb, He was born and revealed into the world.

That is why, Jesus Christ Our Lord, born and celebrated on this Christmas day, more than two millennia ago, is both God and Man, united in His person, one person with two distinct and yet inseparable natures, Man and Divine. The One Who was born and celebrated in Christmas is not just a Man, for then His birth would have been an ordinary one among other births, and neither is He just a Divine, for how can God be born from man? Yet, this is the mystery of the Incarnation, that God willingly took up the fullness of man’s essence and appearance.

God chose to be born into this world, so that through His incarnation, He unites us all in our humanity, to His own humanity, and by sharing in the humanity of Christ, we share also in His obedience to the will of His Father, through which, He completed the mission which was given to Him, the salvation of mankind by His suffering and death on the cross. On the cross, the earthly mission of Christ that began with Christ, is completed.

Today, on Christmas day, we all ought to reflect on the great love which God has for each and every one of us. All of us are God’s most beloved, the pinnacle of all the things that He had created. He created us in nothing less than His own image, and gave us His Spirit and Wisdom. We have been intended to live in eternal bliss and joy with our God, but instead, we were overcome by pride and greed, tempted by Satan and fell into sin.

We should have suffered annihilation and destruction because of our sins, but this is where God’s love for us is so significant and powerful. He still loves us despite of our rebelliousness and refusal to appreciate His love and mercy. Sins of mankind do not change the fact that He loves us, for that is why He created us in the first place. If His love for us is not there, then there is no reason for us to be created in the first place.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Christmas celebrates this love of God made Man, coming down upon us as the tangible and perfect show of His love for each and every one of us. In all of history we have seen how men are trying to be great, powerful and mighty, to become like God. That is how Satan made us fall, by drawing us to the pride, ego and greed that are within our hearts and minds.

But in this only occasion, of Christmas, we see for ourselves how God, the Lord and Almighty Master of all the universe, willingly humbled Himself and emptied Himself from all glory and majesty, that He, the Creator, out of love for us, assume the form of one of His own creation, in order to save us from our sins. He came into our midst, that we may share in His life, His suffering and death. He gathered our sins to Himself, and by offering, as the Eternal High Priest for all of us, His own Body and Blood, He brought for us eternal life and salvation.

That is why, just as we celebrate Christmas, we cannot forget that Christmas itself is linked very closely to another great feast of the Church, that is Easter. Without Easter there is no meaning to Christmas, and without Christmas, the celebration of Easter is not complete. And in that, we have received the revelation about the truth of God’s salvation, that He offered Himself on the altar of the cross, to be the source of atonement for our sins.

Unfortunately, as we see all around us, Christmas is getting more and more disconnected from its true purpose and reason. It is very sad to take note that while Christmas is the most popular celebration that is associated with our Christian faith, yet, at the same time, it is also the one that is most secularised in most of the celebrations we see around us. In many occasions, God is entirely absent and ignored in the Christmas celebrations and revelries, and the joy has become associated with materialism and human greed instead.

This is truly a sad state of affairs for us, brothers and sisters in Christ, as even many of us Christians are also celebrating Christmas in this manner. Many of us have been swayed by the temptations of the secular and worldly joys of Christmas, in all the merchandises, merrymaking and all the things that have become excessive, and unfortunately, also affecting us in how we celebrate our Christmas joy.

The truth is that, at Christmas, God is coming into our midst, and if we reflect on what has happened two millennia ago, we will be truly ashamed by many of our attitudes, our ambivalence and lack of interest in celebrating the true Christmas in our own communities and families. When Christ was about to be born in Bethlehem, have we noticed how so many of the inns and places where He could have come and stayed in, and be born in, were full or refused to accept Him? In the end, He had to be born in a dirty stable not even fit for human beings to be present in.

That, brothers and sisters in Christ, is a reflection of many of our hearts and minds, that have become so full of pride, greed and all other things that prevented us from being able to accept Him in our hearts, in our minds and into our beings. While God’s love for us is so great and vast, that He was willing to do everything, even to the point of humbling and emptying Himself to be born in such a state, and later on to suffer and die for us, but many of us have not loved Him in the same manner.

Instead, we love the temptations of power, of glory, of pleasure, of greed and of other things that are present in this world. We love all the merrymaking and all the excesses of the celebrations, we worry more about how we are going to show off our vanity and wealth to each other, boast about the gifts we are to receive and even what we are giving to others, instead of remembering why is it that we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we are called to return to the true roots of our Christmas joy and celebration, that is by putting Christ once again in the centre of all of our merrymaking, celebrations and joy. We are called to remember the love by which we have been generously given by God, our loving Father and Creator. Then, we are also called to show the same love in our actions and interactions with those who are around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the true joy of our Christmas should be shared with those who have little or no opportunity to be joyful in this blessed time of Christmas. We should be sensitive to their plight, and be moved to help them just as the Lord had shown the same love and compassion towards us. And that is how we appreciate and live the true joy of Christmas, not the excesses and selfish desire to satisfy our own ego and pride and greed, but in the sharing of our joys and blessings.

Today, let us open our hearts and minds, with a renewed faith and love, day after day, from now on, that we will no longer close ourselves from God Who is willing to enter into our lives. Let us all turn towards Him filled with a newfound love for Him, and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord. May the Lord, Who was born into our midst more than two thousand years ago, in the town of Bethlehem, because of His great love for us, continue to love us all, and that we may also love Him in the same manner, from now on. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Day (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.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Day (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.”

Tuesday, 25 December 2018 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Day (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!

Tuesday, 25 December 2018 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Day (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.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, 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.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, 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.