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Saturday, 12/24/2016, Nativity of the Lord, Vigil Mass

Rejoice, Christ Came to Make All Things New

First Reading Commentary Isaiah 62:1-5

As we look at Isaiah’s prophecy, we are called to remember that the birth of Christ brought much more than His physical presence on earth. The prophecy of Isaiah is as much about the second coming of Christ as it is the first and Isaiah says that for the sake of Zion and Jerusalem, he will not be silent or quiet.

The very first thing that Isaiah says tells us that his prophecy is about the second coming because Christ was born in Bethlehem, not Zion or Jerusalem. But it is in Jerusalem that He would be condemned and sentenced to die on the cross and Revelations tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is the New Jerusalem.

The message in this prophecy is that Christ comes to make all things new and the events which Isaiah speaks of occur in John’s vision in the book of Revelations. The faithful shall be vindicated, receive glory and be given a new name which will be pronounced by the mouth of the LORD. No longer will the faithful be called “Forsaken,” or their land called “Desolate.”

Have you ever heard someone with a problem complain that God won’t do anything or say that God can’t do anything? Their faith is weak or non-existent and they believe that those who rely on God in faith are forsaken by God when they experience problems. But when Christ comes again, the faithful shall be called “My Delight” by God and their land shall be “Espoused.”

No more problems and no more worries for the faithful--only eternal peace and joy. But in order for Christ to have a second coming, He had to have a first. It is the first coming which we celebrate on Christmas Day as we celebrate the Nativity of the Lord. Everything that Christ did during His life on earth was designed for His second coming and for the sake of our salvation so that we might enter the Kingdom and be with Him.

Isaiah draws a parallel between the marriage of Joseph and Mary and our entry into the Kingdom. Isaiah says, “As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.”

Some people, especially men, have a tough time grasping the idea that when we enter heaven, we will enter as the Bride of Christ. But that is exactly what this prophecy from Isaiah says and it is confirmed in Revelations 19:7-8 and in Revelations 21.

Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the Son through whom the Father created all things and Christ is our Savior (the Lamb who sacrificed Himself on the cross). Everyone of faith is an integral part of His Mystical Body and when we enter His Kingdom, each of us becomes an integral part of the bride of the Lamb.

God’s plan for our salvation began in Genesis 3:15 and the Nativity of the Lord is another critical part in God’s plan. Isaiah’s prophecy is about all of these things and by saying that he will not be silent or quiet, he is saying that he rejoices.  

On this day we call Christmas, we should rejoice, not only because it is the day that we celebrate the birth of Christ, but because God’s plan for our salvation continues to be fulfilled.

The Spirit of Peace and Good Will

Second Reading Commentary Acts 13:16-17, 22-25

In Antioch, Paul stood up in the synagogue and said, “Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen.” Remember that it was the Jews who persecuted Christ and there were still many Jews who would not accept Christ after His Resurrection. Remember also, that Paul was called, by Christ to evangelize the Gentiles. So, Paul was making it clear that what he was about to say was for those who were willing to listen, Jews and Gentiles alike.

Paul reminded the people of the Exodus and how God, through Moses, paved the way by parting the Red Sea by raising his arms and leading the Jews out of Egypt. This is important for us to remember as we celebrate the birth of Christ. In paving the way for us to make our exodus out of this life and into the next, Christ raised His arms on the cross and then defeated death with His Resurrection.

Then Paul seems to make a comparison between the kingship of David and the Kingship of Christ by saying that God raised up David as king and of David, God said, “I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.” But as Paul continues, we see that he is really telling us that David was an instrumental part in the fulfillment of the prophecy of Christ. Paul says, “From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.”

Paul went on to speak of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Christ by proclaiming a baptism of repentance and Paul repeated what John said in his mission: “Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.”

What Paul did was to give the people in the synagogue that day a history lesson designed to open their minds and hearts to accept Christ. The things that Paul said are important facts for us to remember as we celebrate this day because they encapsulate the reason, why Christ was born. Christ came in fulfillment of the Scriptures and prophecies to lead people from every nation on their exodus out of this life and into the next so that all people can be with Him in the Promised Land of the Kingdom of Heaven. That is the spirit of, “Peace on earth and good will to all men.”

The Son Became One of Us to Save Us

Gospel Commentary Matthew 1:1-25

Matthew begins his gospel by giving the genealogy of Jesus beginning with Abraham. Unlike Luke, who begins his genealogy of Jesus with Adam, son of God, and only includes men, Matthew includes four women. They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba who is mentioned as Solomon’s mother but not by name. All four women were Gentile. It is believed that Matthew includes these women to show that even though Jesus was born and raised as a Jew, the ancestry of Jesus includes Gentile heritage.

God is the Creator of all mankind so it makes sense that the Gentiles, who includes everyone who is not a Jew, would be included in the Son's genealogy. Also by including these women, Matthew shows that there were less than perfect people within the ancestry of Jesus. Tamar was a harlot, Rahab posed as a harlot. Bathsheba was married to Uriah and became the mother of Solomon after being seduced by and committing adultery with David who then had Uriah killed.

What can we learn from all of this? First, there has never been and nor will there ever be a human-being to live on earth who is absolutely, perfect except for Christ Himself and that is because of His divinity.

Second, the genealogy of Jesus is not limited to one race of people and that is true for all of us. Therefore, Matthew, by showing the universality within the ancestry of Jesus, underscores the fact that Christ came for the salvation of all mankind and our brokeness does not stop God from making any of us a part of His plan.

The remainder of tonight’s gospel, is what we heard in last Sunday’s gospel which is the story of why and how Joseph decided not to divorce Mary. The only thing that I would like to add to that account is that there should be no surprise at the scandal that could have been had if Joseph had decided to divorce Mary.

In fact, I believe that the reason, why the potential for such mayhem should capture our attention is because it magnifies the fact that Christ came to save a people who are in a state of chaos. He came to bring us out of our chaos by stepping into that chaos Himself.   

          Christ stepped into our chaos and defeated the death that it brings and so today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We give Him praise and by celebrating His nativity, we say, “Thank you.” This day is all about Jesus. This day is about the birth of the promises made by God through the prophets. Today is about the birth of the One who paves the way and is our Guiding Light to the Promised Land. Today is about the birth of the One who will bring “peace on earth and good will to all men.” Today is all about the Word becoming; Flesh. Merry Christmas!

Reading 1          Isaiah 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.

Nations shall behold your vindication, and all the kings your glory; you shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,” but you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.

Responsorial Psalm          89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29

R. (2a) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Blessed the people who know the joyful shout; in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day, and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

He shall say of me, “You are my father, my God, the rock, my savior.”
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him, and my covenant with him stands firm.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 2          Acts 13:16-17, 22-25

When Paul reached Antioch in Pisidia and entered the synagogue, he stood up, motioned with his hand, and said, “Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen.
The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt.
With uplifted arm he led them out of it.
Then he removed Saul and raised up David as king; of him he testified, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.’
From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’”

Gospel          Matthew 1:1-25

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen  generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, fourteen generations.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
     Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.

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The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Paragraph 767 "When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church."174 Then "the Church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun."175 As the "convocation" of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.176

The Holy Spirit came to Mary and the Apostles as tongues of fire.

Saint of the Day

Christmas at Greccio

Reflection from Saint of the Day
God’s choice to give human beings free will was, from the beginning, a decision to be helpless in human hands. With the birth of Jesus, God made the divine helplessness very clear to us, for a human infant is totally dependent on the loving response of other people. Our natural response to a baby is to open our arms, as Francis did, to the infant of Bethlehem and to the God who made us all.

Paul's message was that Christ came to save all of mankind.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Tomorrow the wickedness of the earth will be destroyed:
the Savior of the world will reign over us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

God gave Himself to us by sending the Son to become one of us and to save us.

When the Son comes again, the wickedness of the earth from the evil one will be destroyed.

O Mary, you are the Mother of God for you brought forth the Son of God. Teach me how to bring forth Jesus in the lives of all those I will encounter this day. From Mary Day By Day Dec. 24

Other Saints This Week

Blessed Anthony Grassi
(11/13/1592 – 12/13/1671)

Blessed Pope Urban V
(1310 – 12/19/1370)

Saint Dominic of Silos
(c. 1000 – 12/20/1073)

Saint Peter Canisius
(5/8/1521 – 12/21/1597)

Blessed Jacopone da Todi
(c. 1230 – 12/25/1306)

Saint John Kanty
(6/24/1390 – 12/24/1473)

Minute Meditations

Celebration of Birth 
If you take Christmas to heart and get past the anxieties in arranging for gifts and parties, you will rediscover yourself every year at this time and experience a birth in yourself, just like the one so beautifully described in the Gospel stories. It will be a celebration of both the birth of Jesus and the birth of your own soul. - from The Soul of Christmas

Concrete Sign
Through his humanity, Jesus was able to reveal the singular destiny of all women and men. He offered himself as both the concrete sign of this destiny and the means of achieving it. By entering under the roof of human history, Jesus came to us exactly where we lay ill and gave his own life as the cure for our fallen condition. - from The Little Way of Advent

Bringing the Word to Life
Pope Francis reminds us again and again that we bring the Word to life each and every day in the way we reach out to others with the love and mercy of God, the way we bring the light of Christ to a world too often shrouded in clouds and darkness, and the way we show to others a face that mirrors the face of God. - from The Joy of Advent

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