Feast of the Holy Family (a)
This Week’s Liturgy Calendar.
The Christmas Octave and the Christmas Season.
Sunday 29th December: Feast of the Holy Family (a)
The first reading, from the Book of Ecclesiasticus (3:2-6), reminds us the respect for parents is never out of date.
St. Paul, writing to the Colossians (3:12-17), in the second reading, reminds us that, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to live in harmony with one another.
St. Matthew in the Gospel passage (2:13-15,19-23) introduces us to the family life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Monday 30th December: Christmas Octave by Date.
During the Christmas Octave, the first readings come from the First Letter of St. John. This is one of three letters, written to encourage unity in the early Church, in which there were many divisions. The letter is very positive and loving in its tone. We can be sure that we are in God only when we are living the same kind of life as Christ lived.
The Gospel passage presents us with the second part of lovely story of the Presentation in the Temple. Simeon, who like the whole people of Israel, has been waiting for the Messiah, recognises his arrival in the person of Jesus. Now we hear of Anna, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesying that the child would be the Saviour of Jerusalem.
Tuesday 31st December: Christmas Octave by Date.
John warns of the lies being put about by the attackers of Jesus. They deny that is the Christ. John warns that many will come forward claiming to be Christ. Don’t listen to them, be on your guard.
The Gospel presents us with the powerful prologue to St. John’s Gospel in which all the themes of his Gospel are presented to us. It is written, in John’s own words, that we might believe in Christ and find life in him and through him.
Wednesday 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.”
Thursday 2nd January: Memorial of St. Basil & 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.
Friday 3rd January: Weekday of the Christmas Season.
We pick up the readings from St. John again with him highlighting the love that has been shown to us by God. The future for us has yet to be completely revealed because it is only then we shall see God face to face.
John the Baptist having reminded his listeners that he is not the Christ now points to Jesus. He is the Messiah. He is the Chosen One of God.
Saturday 4th January: Weekday of the Christmas Season.
The unique test of our commitment to Christ is our relationship of love with those around us. We cannot call God our Father unless we really acknowledge all people as our brothers and sisters in all we do and say.
Some of John’s disciples join Jesus. One of these is Andrew. He introduced his brother Simon to him – the one who was to be called Peter.
O Star of Wonder,
Star of Night,
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to the heavenly light.