Wednesday, December 24
LITURGY






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vol, 8
no. 59

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GOSPEL Reading and Reflections for the Mass of the day


WEDNESDAY, December 24, 1997

Wednesday, December 24:
Final Wednesday of Advent

      First Reading: 2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8-12, 14, 16
      Psalms: Psalm 89: 2-5, 27, 29
      Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 67-79

December 24: CHRISTMAS VIGIL
    First Reading: Isaiah 62: 1-5
    Psalms: Psalm 89: 4-5, 16-17, 27, 29
    Second Reading: Acts 13: 16-17, 22-25
    Gospel Reading: Matthew 1: 1-25


THURSDAY, December 25, 1997

Thursday, December 25:
SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD

CHRISTMAS MIDNIGHT MASS
      First Reading: Isaiah 9: 1-3, 5-6
      Psalms: Psalm 96: 1-3, 11-13
      Second Reading: Titus 2: 11-14
      Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 1-14

CHRISTMAS DAWN MASS
      First Reading: Isaiah 62: 11-12
      Psalms: Psalm 97: 1, 6, 11-12
      Second Reading: Titus 3: 4-7
      Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 15-20

CHRISTMAS DAY MASS
      First Reading: Isaiah 52: 7-10
      Psalms: Psalm 98: 1-6
      Second Reading: Hebrews 1: 1-6
      Gospel Reading: John 1: 1-18

SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD
With the Vigil of Christmas begins the Christmas Season in the Liturgical calendar. It officially ends with the Feast of the Epiphany. The Feast of the Nativity, or the Incarnation, or Christmas is a holy day of obligation and one of the most joyous in the Church. In celebrating this glorious event we commemorate the birth of the Christ child as related in Luke 2: 1-20. It was the culmination of the long-awaited coming of the Messiah foretold throughout Scripture. Such as Isaiah 7:14 where the prophet foretold the Coming of Emmanuel; from Abraham to the Root of Jesse, father of David who continued the line as the Key of David - the Savior's lineage which came all the way down to Jacob, father of Joseph as transcribed in Matthew 1: 1-16. The story of a child born of a virgin in a poor, run-down stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem while lowly shepherds tended their flocks because there was no room at the inn is well-known by all detailed in Matthew 1:24-25, Luke 2: 1-20, and John 1: 14 wherein the beloved Apostle says it so eloquently: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." The feast, originally celebrated on the Feast of Epiphany in the East, was transfered to December 25 in 354 by Pope Liberius for the universal Church in the West where it was called "Christmas." Many believe this date was set to observe this wondrous feast to offset the observance of pagan ceremonies held simultaneously. These pagan feasts celebrated the winter solstice. There is credence for this supposition because at the time Liberius instituted Christmas on December 25 he was embroiled in debate with Julian the Apostate who, as Emperor, was trying to establish a universal pagan church. A special privilege of allowing the priests to say three Masses on Christmas day reverts back to around the 4th Century when the Holy Father celebrated Midnight Mass in the Basilica where the original Bethlehem manger was preserved. He then said a second in the church of St. Anastasia at dawn for her feast day was on December 25th as well, and followed that up with a day Mass at the Basilica in the Vatican. Today there are three different texts/readings for the three Masses on Christmas. The etimology of "Christmas" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Cristes Maesse which means "Christ's Mass." In fact, most of the present customs in many countries evolved over the centuries as a result of Holy Mother Church's "Christianizing" of pagan celebrations during that time of year.

    December 24, 1997 volume 8, no. 59    LITURGY



December 1997