Vigil of Christmas (December 24): "He will save his people from their sins"
Gospel Reading: Matthew 1:1-25 (alternate readings for Christmas: Luke 2:1-14; Luke 2:15-20; John 1:1-5,9-14)Genealogy of Jesus:
Birth of Jesus:
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; 19 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; 21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.
Jesus is the long-expected Messiah and
In the coming of Jesus, we see the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham and to David that he would send a Savior whom he would anoint as king and savior who would rule forever. When Jacob, the great-grandson of Abraham, blessed his twelve sons, he foretold that Judah would receive the promise of royalty which we see fulfilled when David, a descendant of Judah, was chosen as the anointed King for Israel (Genesis 49:10). We can see in Jacob's blessing and in the promise made to David a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah and Ruler whom the Father would send to save his people from sin, Satan, and death.The Lord Jesus came not only to restore Israel but to save the nations. Do you recognize the Lord Jesus as the fulfillment of all God's promises?
When Israel and the House of David rebelled and turned away from God, God described his people as a deserted and forsaken wife (Isaiah62:4). God, however did not abandon nor forget his people. The prophet Isaiah foretold a time of deliverance when the Messiah would come to his people as their Bridegroom who would delight in restoring and uniting them as his Bride (Isaiah 61:10, Revelations 21:2). This work of restoration would extend to all the nations as well. We begin to see the fulfillment of that prophecy when the angel announced the coming of the Messiah first to the virgin Mary and then later to her espoused husband, Joseph (Matthew 1:18-23).
Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the
When Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah she had to face an enormous challenge to her faith and trust in God, and to the faith of her family, as well as the faith of Joseph, the man she had chosen to marry. She was asked to assume a burden of tremendous responsibility. It had never been heard of before that a child could be born without a natural father. Mary was asked to accept this miraculous exception to the laws of nature.That required faith and trust in God and in his promises. Second, Mary was not yet married. Pregnancy outside of wedlock was not tolerated in those days. Mary was only espoused to Joseph, and such an engagement had to last for a whole year. She was asked to assume a great risk. She could have been rejected by Joseph, by her family, by all her own people. Mary knew that Joseph and her family would not understand without revelation from God. She nonetheless believed and trusted in God's promises.
God reveals to Joseph - and to us - the miraculous
conception and mission of Jesus
Joseph, a just and God-fearing man, did not wish to embarrass or punish his espoused wife, Mary, when he discovered that she was pregnant. To all appearances she had broken their solemn pledge to be faithful and chaste to one another. Joseph, no doubt took this troubling matter to God in prayer. He was not hasty to judge or to react with hurt and anger. God rewarded him not only with guidance and consolation, but with the divine assurance that he had indeed called Joseph to be the husband of Mary and to assume a mission that would require the utmost faith, confidence, and trust in Almighty God. Joseph believed in the divine message to take Mary as his wife and to accept the child in her womb as the promised Messiah.
Like Mary, Joseph is a model of faith for us. He is a faithful witness and servant of God's unfolding plan of redemption. Are you ready to believe in the promises of God, even when faced with perplexing circumstances and what seems like insurmountable problems? God has not left us alone, but has brought us his only begotten Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us celebrate Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation (when "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us... the only-begotten Son from the Father" John 1:14), with joyful hearts, and let us renew our faith and hope in God, and give thanks for his work of redemption.
"Lord Jesus, you came to set us free from the power of sin, death, and Satan. You give us the hope of abundant life and joy with you forever. May I always rejoice in your saving work and trust in your plan for my life".
Psalm 89:2-5, 15-16, 27, 29
2 For your steadfast love was established for ever, your
faithfulness is firm as the heavens.
3 You have said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant:
4 `I will establish your descendants for ever, and build your throne for all generations.'" [Selah]
5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your countenance,
16 who exult in your name all the day, and extol your righteousness.
27 And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth.
28 My steadfast love I will keep for him for ever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.
29 I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of the heavens.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Jesus' humanity revealed in the genealogy, by Severus of Antioch (465-538 AD)
"One must bear in mind therefore that the
Evangelists, or rather the Spirit speaking through them, took
pains to ensure that their readers believed that Christ was truly
God and truly human. Because of what they wrote, no one could
possibly doubt that he is God by nature, beyond all variation,
mutation or illusion, and that according to the ordered plan of
God he was truly human. This is why John could say, on the one
hand, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.' John immediately adds, 'The Word was made
flesh and dwelt among us' (John 1:1-2,14). Hence Matthew wrote
appropriately, 'The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the
son of David, the son of Abraham.' On the one hand he is not able
to be counted simply from natural generation among families, since
it is written, 'Who shall declare his generation?' (Isaiah 53:8)
He is before the centuries and of one substance with the Father
himself, from the standpoint of eternity. But by this genealogy he
is also numbered among the families of humanity according to the
flesh. For in truth, while remaining God, Christ became man
without ceasing to be God, unaltered till the end of time.
"This is why there is also mention of the ancient patriarchs in the lineage, the narrative and observation of the times and vicissitudes that are indeed proper to human history. Through all this Matthew made it clear that Christ participates in our human generation and in our nature. Otherwise some might claim that he appeared in illusion and in imagination only, rather than by becoming genuinely human. Think of what might have been said if none of this had been written?" (excerpt from CATHEDRAL SERMONS, HOMILY 94)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible:
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright
1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard
Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the
Division of Christian Education of the National
Council of the Churches of Christ in the United
States of America. Used by permission. All rights
reserved. Citation references for quotes from
the writings of the early church fathers can be
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