The Nativity of the Lord (24 December 2021)

Hymns for Mass – Press Here

FIRST READING (A son is given us.)
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (9:1-6)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils. For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian. For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames. For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this! —The Word of the Lord.

R. Thanks be to God.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM (96:1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13)
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord. (Lk 2:11)

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all you lands. Sing to the Lord; bless his name. (R)

Announce his salvation, day after day. Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds. (R)

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them! Then shall all the trees of the forest exult. (R)

They shall exult before the Lord, for he comes; for he comes to rule the earth. He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy. (R)

SECOND READING (The grace of God has appeared to all.)
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to Titus (2:11-14)

Beloved: The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good. —The Word of the Lord.

R. Thanks be to God.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION (Lk 2:10-11)
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I proclaim to you good news of great joy: today a Savior is born for us, Christ the Lord. (R)

GOSPEL (Today a Savior has been born for you.)
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (2:1-14)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” —The Gospel of the Lord.

R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

PRAYER OVER THE OFFERINGS
May the oblation of this day’s feast
be pleasing to you, O Lord, we pray,
that through this most holy exchange
we may be found in the likeness of Christ,
in whom our nature is united to you.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

PREFACE I OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD
(Christ the Light)
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

For in the mystery of the Word made flesh
a new light of your glory has shone upon the eyes of our mind,
so that, as we recognize in him God made visible,
we may be caught up through him in love of things invisible.

And so, with Angels and Archangels,
with Thrones and Dominions,
and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven,
we sing the hymn of your glory
as without end we acclaim:

Or

PREFACE II OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD
(The restoration of all things in the Incarnation)

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

For on the feast of this awe-filled mystery,
though invisible in his own divine nature,
he has appeared visibly in ours;
and begotten before all ages,
he has begun to exist in time;
so that, raising up in himself all that was cast down,
he might restore unity to all creation
and call straying humanity back to the heavenly Kingdom.

And so, with all the Angels, we praise you,
as in joyful celebration we acclaim:

Or

PREFACE III OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD
(The exchange in the Incarnation of the Word)

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

For through him the holy exchange that restores our life
has shone forth today in splendor:
when our frailty is assumed by your Word
not only does human mortality receive unending honor
but by this wondrous union we, too, are made eternal.

And so, in company with the choirs of Angels,
we praise you, and with joy we proclaim:

When the Roman Canon is used, the proper form of the Communicantes (In communion with those) is said.

COMMUNION ANTIPHON (Jn 1:14)
The Word became flesh, and we have seen his glory.

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
Let us pray (pause)
Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God,
that we, who are gladdened by participation
in the feast of our Redeemer’s Nativity,
may through an honorable way of life become worthy of union with him.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

SOLEMN BLESSING
Bow down for the blessing.
(The priest, with hands extended over the people, says the blessing.)

May the God of infinite goodness,
who by the Incarnation of his Son has driven darkness from the world
and by that glorious Birth has illumined this most holy night,
drive far from you the darkness of vice
and illumine your hearts with the light of virtue.
R. Amen.

May God, who willed that the great joy
of his Son’s saving Birth
be announced to shepherds by the Angel,
fill your minds with the gladness he gives
and make you heralds of his Gospel.
R. Amen.

And may God, who by the Incarnation
brought together the earthly and heavenly realm,
fill you with the gift of his peace and favor
and make you sharers with the Church in heaven.
R. Amen.

And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, X and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever.
R. Amen.

Homily

Is 9:1-6

Titus 2:11-14

Lk 2:1-14

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord!

The tradition of the Night Vigil or Midnight Mass for Christmas helps us to understand that our prayer is in the midst of the deep silence of night. It is a time for us to pause and to consider the manner in which God – out of his immeasurable love – chose to save us. It is also in the stillness of the night, a stillness reflected in the famous carol “Silent Night, Holy Night” that we are faced with the call of God’s love.

The beauty and mystery of Christmas is essentially a story of LOVE – a LOVE that is unconditional, unlimited, and overpowering. It is a LOVE that can move our hearts to heights and depths we often fail to grasp.  

Our faith welling up from the Sacred Scriptures teaches us that God undertook the Incarnation of Jesus as True God and true man to save us from the bondage of sin. Hindus believe in ten incarnations of God. The purpose of these incarnations is stated in their Holy Scripture called the Bagavath Geetha or Song of God. For them, “God incarnates to restore righteousness in the world whenever there is a large-scale erosion of moral values.” But the Christian Scriptures teach and speak of only one Incarnation, and its purpose is given in John 3:16: “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.”  

We celebrate the Incarnation of God as an infant today as Good News because we now have a Divine Savior. As our Savior, Jesus liberated us from slavery to sin  and atoned for our sins by His suffering, death, and Resurrection. So, our annual  celebration of Christmas reminds us that we need a Savior every day, to free us from our evil attractions, addictions and unjust, impure and uncharitable tendencies. Christmas in this year of 2021 also challenges us to accept Jesus in the manger as our saving God and personal Savior and to surrender our lives to him, allowing him to rule our hearts and lives every day in the New Year.

Christmas is the Feast of God’s sharing His love with us: Jesus, as our Savior, brought the “Good News” that our God is a loving, forgiving, merciful, rewarding God and not a judgmental, cruel, punishing God. He demonstrated by his life and teaching how God our Heavenly Father loves us, forgives us, provides for us, and rewards us. 

All his miracles were signs of this Divine Love. Jesus’ final demonstration of God’s love for us was his death on the cross to atone for our sins and to make us children of God. Each Christmas reminds us that sharing love with others is our Christian privilege and duty. Every time we do that, Jesus is reborn in our lives. Tonight, let us humbly admit the truth with the German mystic Angelus Silesius “Christ could be born a thousand times in Bethlehem – but all in vain until He is born in me.” So let us allow Jesus to be reborn in our hearts and lives, not only during Christmas, but every day, so that he may radiate the Light of his presence from within us as sharing and selfless love, expressed in compassionate words and deeds, unconditional forgiveness, the spirit of humble service and, overflowing generosity.

Our Gospel on this holy night can be understood as the greatest beginning of the greatest story ever told. So much of the Christmas story is, truly, about listening.

When Gabriel arrives to bring Mary the news that she will bear a child…she listens. When the angel tells Joseph in his dreams what is about to happen…he listens. The shepherds listen when the angel announces the “good news of great joy.” And in the passage immediately following this in Luke’s Gospel, they go out and tell the world what they have seen. And the world listens.

Over two thousand years later, we confront this stunning message – “tidings of comfort and joy,” as the carol describes it – and our hearts swell with the sentiment of the season. 

Christmas invites us to listen. To listen for His good news.

To listen for God’s messengers: angels and poor shepherds

And what good news it is: that God is with us! We are no longer alone. He has come into our lives, and into our world. “The grace of God has appeared,” as St. Paul writes. Or as Isaiah puts it so beautifully: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”  This is the news we have been waiting for. The news all of humanity has been listening for.

Christmas comes to us – if only we listen for it. It comes to us with angels singing and a baby crying.

It comes to us with the clang of bells, a blare of trumpets. The ripping of wrapping paper and accompanied by laughter of loved ones around the table.

It comes in unexpected sounds, too. A soft voice a son or daughter, father or mother hears on the other end of a telephone line, a voice that says “I miss you.”

 Over a century ago, the Hindu poet and Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore wrote a lengthy poem called included in “Gitanjali.” The focus one poem is the Almighty God, Creator, Soul of the universe, who visits His creation all the time and does not let them suffer alone in their miseries. There,  repetition of the line “he comes, comes, ever comes” intensifies God’s concern and love for us his creation. This poem strengthens the conceptions of God who is Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and Omniscient. This insight helps overcome the fear of suffering and pessimism. As we celebrate the first coming of God in human flesh over two thousand years ago, Tagore reminds us of His daily coming into our lives.

Have you not heard his silent steps?

He comes, comes, ever comes.

Every moment and every age,

every day and every night, he comes, comes, ever comes.

Many a song have I sung in many a mood of mind,

but all their notes have always proclaimed,

‘He comes, comes, ever comes.’

In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path he comes,

comes, ever comes.

In the rainy gloom of July nights on the thundering chariot of clouds

he comes, comes, ever comes.

In sorrow after sorrow, it is his steps that press upon my heart,

and it is the golden touch of his feet that makes my joy to shine.

Yes, he comes, comes, ever comes.

My friends, on this miraculous night, the message I want to leave with you is so simple: Listen. With your ears. Listen with your mind. Listen with your eyes. And listen with your heart. Our salvation has been announced. What will we do with it?

Twenty centuries ago, shepherds listened, and told the world what they heard. But God has no shepherds now but us. We are the ones chosen to hear His good news – and to pass it on. It is news of wonder and hope. Of light breaking through darkness.

It is the sound of music filling the heavens. Of Halleluiahs in our hearts.

Listen for it. Surrender to the joy. Carry it with you out into the night.

And if we do, maybe one day we might hear God say, in gratitude and in joy:

“Thanks for listening top my glad tidings.”

And Merry Christmas!

Prayers

SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD
24-25 DECEMBER 2021 – NIGHT MASS

Celebrant: On this blessed night, we rejoice, because our Saviour has been born. Let us pray to the Father, who has shown his endless love by sending us his only Son.

READER: Today, the angels proclaimed joy to the shepherds and peace to people who enjoy God’s favor. Let us pray that all God’s people follow the way of the shepherds, by glorifying and praising God with one voice, one heart, and by their love for each other. (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.

READER: For all the members of our Church throughout the world, that they may share the joy of this holy night and rejoice in the light of faith. (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: For all mothers, that they may follow the example of blessed Mary, who so lovingly welcomed the infant Jesus into her life. (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: For our community, especially parents and children, and for those who are away from their families at this time, that together in faith, we can appreciate the true spirit of Christmas giving with each other. (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: And for the intentions we carry in our hearts, and for all those who have asked for our prayers and who we remember now in silence. (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.

CELEBRANT: Father, you sent your only Son into the world, truly God and truly Man. Mindful of your great Gift, we confidently place our needs before you, through Christ our Lord. (all) AMEN.

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