The Season of Christmas.
Sunday 31st December: Feast of the Holy Family. (b).
The first reading is from the Book of Genesis. God promises Abraham that he would have a son and countless descendants. This seemed to be against the odds, but Abraham trusted in God’s word and that trust was rewarded.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews. From its earliest days we have examples of faithful people who trusted in God in good times and difficult times.
In the Gospel passage, from St. Luke we have the beautiful story of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. For Simeon and Anna, Jesus was the fulfilment of a long awaited promise of hope. For Mary and Joseph, their joy was tempered by the discovery of the anxiety and pain that lay ahead.
Monday 1st January: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
In his encyclical ‘Marialis Cultus’, written in 1974, Pope Paul VI wrote, “This celebration, assigned to January 1st, in conformity with the ancient liturgy of the city of Rome, is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation. It is also meant to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the ‘holy Mother….through whom we were found worthy…to receive the Author of life.’ It is likewise a fitting occasion for renewed adoration of the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of angels, and for imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of peace. For this reason, we have instituted the World Day of Peace.”
Tuesday 2nd January: Memorial of St. Basil and St. Gregory Nazianzen.
These were two great saints of the early Church. Basil was born in 330 and, after spending some years as a hermit, at 40 became the Bishop of Caesarea. He wrote a great deal especially relating to the monastic rules many of which are still followed by the monks of the Eastern Church.
Gregory was born in the same year and joined Basil in undertaking a life of solitude. In 381, he became Bishop of Constantinople. He was a man of great wisdom and eloquence but was rooted in the contemplative and monastic life. He did not enjoy the trappings of the Episcopacy and when the legitimacy of his transfer to Constantinople was contested, he resigned for the sake of peace and unity.
Wednesday 3rd January: Weekday in the Christmas Season.
In these days of the Christmas season, the first reading is normally from the First Letter of St. John. This was written to encourage unity in the early Church in which there were many factions and divisions. It is very positive and loving in tone,.
Thie reading today reminds us of how much we are loved by the Father; we are already God’s children and ou lives should reflect that.
In the Gospel, John the Baptist witnesses to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the chosen one of God.
Thursday 4th January: Weekday in the Christmas Season.
St. John, in the first reading, warns us to be on our guard against false teachers who would try to lead us astray. Anyone, he says, who does not live his brother cannot be a child of God.
Some of John the Baptist’s followers now come to follow Jesus, among them Andrew. One of his key roles in the Gospel is that of bring people to Jesus including his brother Peter. That role falls to us now, to introduce people to Jesus by the example we set.
Friday 5th January: Weekday in the Christmas Season.
St. John continues his reflection on love. Just as Jesus gave up his life for us in love, so we too ought to be following that example. Our love is not to be just words but something alive and active.
In the Gospel, we hear of the call of Philip who in turn brings Nathaniel.
Saturday 6th January: Weekday of the Christmas Season.
In the first reading, John uses legal terminology to express his faith. He talks of the three witnesses to the work of Christ – the Spirit, water and blood.
The Gospel presents us with the Baptism of Jesus by the John the Baptist in the River Jordan.
O Star of Wonder,
Star of Night,
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to the heavenly light.