Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (c)
The Octave of the Christmas Season.
Sunday 27th December: Feast of the Holy Family (c).
The first reading, from the Book of Samuel, tells of Hannah presenting her child to the Lord, just as Our Lady and St. Joseph did for Jesus.
The second reading is from the first letter of St. John. He reminds us that, as God’s children, love is lavished upon us. We are called to pass on this love to each other in our families.
St. Luke in the Gospel passage tells of the annual visit by the Holy family to Jerusalem and Our Lady’s finding of her child among the wise men there.
Monday 28th December: Feast of the Holy Innocents.
Today the Church remembers the children, spoken of by St. Matthew in his Gospel who were slaughtered by order of King Herod. This feast has been celebrated at least since the fifth century. The children are venerated as martyrs because they were put to death on account of Christ. It has been estimated that, if the population of Bethlehem at that time was around about 1000 people, then perhaps 20 or so infant boys were killed.
Tuesday 29th December: Octave of the Christmas Season by date. During the Christmas octave, the first reading comes from the first letter of St. John. This was one of three letters, meant to encourage unity in the early Church in which there were many divisions. It is very positive and loving in tone.
In the Gospel, we hear the story of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Simeon had been waiting for this moment for many years. He points out that the Child Jesus was not only the fulfilment of the promises made to Israel, he was the light to enlighten the pagans. He also tells how his life will bring heartache and suffering to those who love him most especially Our Lady.
Wednesday 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 story of the Presentation continues. Anna is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophecies that this is the child who will be the saviour of Jerusalem.
Thursday 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.
Friday 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.”
Saturday 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.
let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.