The Nativity of the Lord Christmas At the Vigil Mass (Evening of Dec 24th)
Christmas Eve - Dcn. Chuck Stevens
Off Site Homilies
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD
As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you
For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord
God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus
The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David
You are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.
The Lord delights in his people.
God chose the people of Israel, and from them he raised up Jesus, the Savior for all people.
After being visited by an angel in a dream, Joseph takes Mary as his wife.
The Value of Family
What is in a name?
Importance of tradition
Background on the Gospel
Today's liturgy offers the option to read a longer or shorter form of the Gospel. If we read the longer form, we hear Matthew recount the ancestry of Jesus. This genealogy sets Jesus' birth within the context of the history of Israel, highlighting two of Jesus' ancestors—Abraham, the father of the Hebrew people, and David, the most important king of Israel. Jesus' ancestral lineage reinforces a central theme of Matthew's Gospel: Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies made to the people of Israel.
The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of the birth of Jesus from Joseph's perspective. During his betrothal to Mary, Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant. Betrothal in first-century Jewish culture was more than an engagement period; it was part of the marriage contract. A breach of this contract was considered adultery. If adultery was proved, the punishment might be death. Joseph had rights under Mosaic Law, but he chose to act discreetly in his plans to break the marriage contract so as to protect Mary. The way that Joseph and Mary faced these extraordinary circumstances tells us much about these holy people and their faith in God.
The message the angel gave to Joseph in a dream reveals many important theological details about the child Mary will bear and about the child's role in God's plan. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. His name will be Jesus, which in the Hebrew means “God saves.” He will be the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. He will be Emmanuel, “God with us.” This is the mystery we celebrate at Christmas, the Incarnation. God chose to become a human being in the person of Jesus.
Joseph did as the angel of the Lord directed. He took Mary to be his wife and accepted the child in her womb as his own. When Jesus was born, Joseph followed the directions of the angel and gave the child the name Jesus. We often recall Mary's cooperation in God's plan for our salvation. Today's Gospel reminds us of Joseph's important role, which was also crucial to God's plan for Jesus' birth.
Knowing your family history is important in establishing your identity. The longer form of today's Gospel lists many of the ancestors of Jesus and serves to establish Jesus' place in the history of Israel. Many important figures from the Hebrew Scriptures are named in this genealogy: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Jesse, David, and Solomon, among many others. From among these names, however, two are highlighted: Abraham, the father of the Israelites because of God's promise to raise from his descendants a great nation, and David, the king who united the tribes of Israel and from whose descendants the Messiah would arise.
After you gather as a family, talk about the importance of your family's history. Recall where your ancestors came from. Tell some important stories from your family's history. In today's Gospel, we hear about Jesus' ancestors. Read today's Gospel, Matthew 1:1-25. Which names do you recognize from Hebrew Scripture? What do you know about these people? From this family history, we learn that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's promise to raise up a savior from the people of Israel. Conclude in prayer together thanking God for the gift of our Savior, Jesus, who saves us from our sins. Sing together one or more favorite Christmas hymns. Pray together the Glory Be to the Father.