Wednesday, 25 December 2019 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Masses (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, after about four weeks of Advent, all of us finally reach this moment of the day of Christmas when we celebrate the birth of the Lord and Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ. Today is indeed a day of great joy that finally after the long wait, the world has finally seen its Saviour, a long awaited moment and a new hope dawning on us mankind. Christmas is indeed the celebration of Christ, through Whom all of us have the reason to rejoice.

And everything was because of God’s love for each and every one of us, that beautiful and enduring love through which God made the impossible to be possible, that mankind, once fallen and condemned to damnation and destruction by our sins, could be saved and brought into a new existence through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. Through Him all of us received the fullness of God’s love and wonders, which manifested fully in our midst through Christ.

That is why we celebrate this Christmas, and why we need to prepare ourselves throughout the season of Advent so that we may be able to celebrate it worthily. And why is that so? That is because many people today have forgotten what Christmas actually means and its true significance for us. For the duration of the season of Advent, we have continuously touched on the topic of how Christ has been forgotten and removed from the focus and emphasis that He should have received.

Instead, what we have and often see all around us this time of the year, is the celebration of greed and human selfishness, feeding our desires and wants, focusing on all the celebrations and glamours, all the paraphernalia and glitters, gifts and presents, all things except the One Whom we ought to be celebrating about, Christ, the true joy and meaning of Christmas. What we have is instead a secularised, materialistic celebration of human greed.

As Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us today are challenged and called to embrace the true meaning and nature of Christmas, especially in how we celebrate Christmas in our homes and within our families and communities. Are we celebrating Christmas as how the rest of the world celebrates it? Are we having all the parties and merrymaking, while leaving. Christ out of all the joy altogether?

What does Christmas truly mean for each and every one of us? Is it about the holiday that we are getting? Is it about the happiness of seeing so many coloured lights and blings all around us? Is it about all the songs and Christmas hymns, all the food and things we usually enjoy and are associated with the joyous Christmas season? Well, yes, we can celebrate and enjoy all these, but it is very important and indeed crucial that we remember the very heart and reason of Christmas in all of our joy and celebrations.

At the heart of our celebrations, we must remember that it was because of the works that the Lord has done for our sake, that we can rejoice and be happy in the first place. If not for the Lord having loved us so much that He was willing to embrace our humanity, the Divine Word and Son of God becoming the Son of Man in the flesh, there would have been no Christmas, and there would be no reason for us to celebrate, or to hope.

As Christians, all of us must know what Christmas is truly all about, and how Christmas fits in the greater scheme of things, within the whole history and framework of God’s salvation. Christmas is not just like any other birthdays, and it is not just celebrating any person’s entry into this world, for Christmas when celebrated on its own has no real meaning and purpose. It is exactly because we know what the One Whose birthday being celebrated in Christmas would be doing through His life and ministry that gave Christmas its full meaning and purpose.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that Christmas has a truly special significance, because the One born today over two millennia ago in the small and humble town of Bethlehem in Judah was not just any baby, but is the One promised by God to be the Saviour for all of His people, as the prophet Isaiah spoke of Him, as the Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Divine Word Incarnate.

And even still, if not for what this Saviour of ours has experienced through His life and at the culmination of His earthly mission, the fullness of significance of Christmas would not be here with us. Christ willingly endured sufferings and pains in His Passion, taking up His cross and being condemned to death although He was without fault or sin, and therefore bore upon Himself all of our sins and punishments for those sins.

All these happened precisely so that He may save us from our fated destruction because of our sins, the sins of our ancestors who have disobeyed God and walked down the path of sin. Just as He saved His people Israel from their slavery in Egypt and made them to be His own, thus through Christ, God has saved us from our slavery to sin, and made us all to be His own beloved people.

It was that same Child born at Christmas day over two millennia ago Who eventually fulfilled all that God has said to be, and promised to His people, the King Who came into this world to redeem His people, by embracing our humanity, and uniting His humanity to our own, that by sacrificing Himself on the Cross, He gave us the sure pathway to redemption and the fullness of forgiveness, mercy and grace in God.

This is the Good News that God has revealed to us, and which He has sent to us through Christ His Son. And yet, this Good News, which mankind had awaited for so long, and ought to rejoice at, has often been forgotten these days, because the world was simply too busy and too distracted to recognise Him and to understand all that He has done for our sake. That is why so many of our Christmas celebrations and all that we see around us are bereft of Christ.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, having discussed in quite some details on the importance and meaning of Christmas, what is it that we then should do? Perhaps we should indeed look at the way how we celebrate Christmas, whether we have been celebrating it in the wrong way, that is as how we often see and perceive it in our world today, empty of its true meaning and purpose, Christ not being at the centre of all the celebrations and merrymaking.

If we have not been celebrating Christmas in the right way, it is still not too late for us, brethren, as the Christmas season has just begun today. Perhaps, this is a timely reminder for us to keep our Christmas observation and celebration to be centred on Christ, its namesake and true meaning. And how do we do this? We can do this by making our Christmas less about ourselves, our desires and all, and instead, share the joy and love we have, especially with our less fortunate brethren.

We must know and understand that not everyone can celebrate Christmas as we do, and there remain many out there who are not able to be joyful or to celebrate in this Christmas joy and festivities, either because they do not have the means to do so, those who are poor and marginalised, all those who have to struggle even to meet their daily needs. And there are also those our brethren who are living in places where being a Christian can mean great suffering and even death.

Hence, even as we rejoice this Christmas day and season, we are all reminded not to be overboard in our celebrations and in our festivities, and rather than spending excessive amounts of money and resources on making an extravagant Christmas celebration, let us instead spare some for those who have less or little, and share our joy and blessings with them in whatever way we can.

In fact, sometimes sharing our joy does not mean giving gifts or money or anything of value. Often what people need is time, love and genuine attention, things that often cannot be bought or obtained by money or wealth. How many of us are so busy preparing for Christmas and forgot to actually spend quality and meaningful time with our loved ones and immerse ourselves in the true joy of Christmas?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today therefore, as we celebrate Christmas, we are all challenged first of all to put Christ back in the centre of our every Christmas joy, merrymaking and celebrations, and then, we are also called to be mindful of those around us who can be part of our joy and celebration as well. Ultimately, Christmas is a celebration of love, joy, hope and peace, a celebration that is universal, and we should share this joy whenever we can.

Let us all therefore return to the true meaning and joy of Christmas, putting Christ right at the heart of everything we do and enthrone Him in our hearts as the King of all of us, and let us all be witnesses for the Lord through our worthy and meaningful celebration of Christmas, that by showing how our Christmas joy was indeed about Christ and our joy of having received salvation through Him, we may bear witness to this truth to many more people whom we encounter in life.

May God bless us and our Christmas celebrations, and may He be there with our families so that all of us may indeed celebrate with true meaning and purpose, glorifying God and giving Him thanks for all the loving things He has done to us, and for the rich and generous mercy He has shown us that He gave us Christ as our Lord and Redeemer as we celebrate it this Christmas. May all of us have a most blessed and wonderful Christmas season. Amen.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas 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.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas 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.”

Wednesday, 25 December 2019 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas 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!

Wednesday, 25 December 2019 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas 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.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019 : 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.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019 : 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.