Feast of the Holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (b)
The Octave of Christmas and the Season of Christmas.
Sunday 28th 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 29th December: Octave of the Christmas Season 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 first 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.
Tuesday 30th December: Octave of the Christmas Season by date. St. John reminds us of the difficulty that being too worldly brings with it. We cannot follow Christ if we wrapped up in the things of this world.
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.
Wednesday 31st December: Octave of the Christmas Season 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.
Thursday 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.”
Friday 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.
Saturday 3rd January: Weekday of the Christmas Season.
John says, in the first reading, that our love of neighbour and our love of God along with our obedience to the commandments will also be sings that the Kingdom has come among us.
The Gospel of today speaks of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He preaches his message of repentance and conversion first to the semi-pagan Jews of Galilee. He becomes their light.
O Star of Wonder,
Star of Night,
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to the heavenly light.