December 31

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vol, 8
no. 64

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GOSPEL Reading and Reflections for the Mass of the day

WEDNESDAY, December 31, 1997

Wednesday, December 31:
Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas

      First Reading: 1 John 2: 18-21
      Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96: 1-2, 11-13
      Gospel Reading: John 1: 1-18

THURSDAY, January 1, 1998

Thursday, January 1:

      First Reading: Numbers 6: 22-27
      Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 67: 2-3, 5-6, 8
      Second Reading:Galatians 4: 4-7
      Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 16-21

Pope Paul VI pronounced this special feast in 1970 to supercede the Feast of the Circumcision, which had been in vogue since early in the 6th Century. The Holy Father changed the feast to bring the Latin Calendar more into accord with Eastern tradition in the Byzantine Church which emphasizes the Marian character of this feast as the octave of Christmas. This is, however, not a new feast for it had been celebrated as early as the 5th Century on the Sunday before Christmas. Late in the 7th Century Pope Saint Sergius I introduced four new Marian feasts into the Church calendar with the Birth of Mary, the Annunciation, the Purification of Mary and the Assumption as well as celebrating the Maternity of Mary on the Octave of Christmas. It wasn't until the 14th Century that the Feast of the Circumcision was introduced and eventually squeezed out, so to speak, the Marian celebration. His Holiness Pope Paul VI stated in his encyclical Marialis Cultus, issued in 1974 "is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation. It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the 'holy Mother...through whom we were found receive the Author of life." The Holy Father took this occasion to also institute that a World Day of Peace be celebrated on this same day "bringing forth fruits of peace in the hearts of many." Seven years later Our Lady herself confirmed this union of her solemnity as the Mother of God and the fruits of peace when she began appearing in Medjugorje, proclaiming herself the "Queen of Peace."

    December 31, 1997 volume 8, no. 64    LITURGY

December 1997