Presider’s Page for 25 December (Christmas Day masses)
We celebrate today an amazing mystery — God is born in time. The eternal God has taken human flesh, has pitched his tent in the midst of humanity. With joy in our hearts, we contemplate the mystery of the Word made flesh.
As we prepare ourselves to ponder the mystery of God’s wonderful love, let us call to mind our sins: (pause)
Lord Jesus, you are mighty God and Prince of Peace: Lord, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, you are Son of God and Son of Mary: Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, you are Word made flesh and splendour of the Father: Lord, have mercy
Alternative Opening Prayer (1998 ICEL Missal)
We praise you, gracious God,
for the glad tidings of peace,
the good news of salvation:
your Word became flesh,
and we have seen his glory.
Let the radiance of that glory
enlighten the lives
of those who celebrate his birth.
Reveal to all the world
the light no darkness can extinguish,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendour of eternal light,
God for ever and ever.
Introduction to the Scripture Readings
Isaiah 62:11-12 Isaiah proclaims the joy that comes with the Saviour’s birth: God’s people are to be redeemed, not forsaken.
Titus 3:4-7 Paul reminds us that everything that has happened shows the compassion of God.
Luke 2:15-20 Luke records that Jesus was first recognised by lowly shepherds — a sign of his future mission to people on the margins.
Isaiah 52:7-10 Let there be great joy, because we have received Good News: God is consoling his people.
Hebrews 1:1-6 Greater than all the angels is the firstborn Son of God, born in time today.
John 1:1-18 In beautiful language, John describes the mystery of God taking on human flesh in Jesus.
Introduction (by the Presider) Let us bring our prayers to God, who has shown his salvation to the nations in the birth of Jesus.
That those who mark the birth of Christ all over the world today may have new hope (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
That the people of Syria and Aleppo may have the gift of peace (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
That migrants may find love and mercy in Europe (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
That hungry and homeless people maybe looked after (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
That people bereaved in 2016 may be comforted (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
That those who are lonely may experience friendship and love (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
The presider prays for the dead: For our friends who have fallen asleep in Christ (especially N and N), and for all our friends who died since last Christmas, whom we remember now: (pause for quiet prayer) that the peace and joy of heaven may be theirs.
Conclusion (by the Presider) O God, your love for your people is sure: hear our prayers and grant us your grace, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
PRAYER OVER THE GIFTS
on this solemn day accept the offering
which has brought us reconciliation and perfect peace
and is the full expression of our worship.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Lord.
PREFACE OF CHRISTMAS II
It is truly right and just,
our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In the great mystery of his birth,
the God we cannot see
has now appeared in human form.
The one begotten before all ages
begins to live in time.
He has come to raise the fallen world,
to make creation whole again,
and to lead humanity from exile
back to your heavenly kingdom.
And so, with all the angels and saints,
we sing the joyful hymn of your praise:
EUCHARISTIC PRAYER III (from 1998 ICEL Missal, with Christmas interpolation)
Lord, you are holy indeed,
and all creation rightly gives you praise.
All life, all holiness comes from you
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
by the working of the Holy Spirit.
From age to age you gather a people to yourself,
so that from the rising of the sun to its setting
a pure offering may be made
to the glory of your name.
And so, Lord God, on this day
of glory and peace,
we celebrate the birth of your incarnate Word;
and, rejoicing that your loving kindness
has appeared among us,
we humbly pray:
by the power of your Spirit sanctify these gifts
we have brought before you,
that they may become the body + and blood
of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
at whose command we celebrate this eucharist.
On the night he was handed over to death,
he took bread and gave you thanks and praise;
he broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples, and said:
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT IT:
THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.
When supper was ended, he took the cup;
again he gave you thanks and praise,
gave the cup to his disciples, and said:
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT:
THIS IS THE CUP OF MY BLOOD,
THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND EVERLASTING COVENANT.
IT WILL BE SHED FOR YOU AND FOR ALL,
SO THAT SINS MAY BE FORGIVEN.
DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.
The mystery of faith…..
Calling to mind, Lord God
the death your Son endured for our salvation,
his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven,
and eagerly awaiting the day of his return,
we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice.
Look with favour on your Church’s offering
and see the Victim by whose sacrifice
you were pleased to reconcile us to yourself.
Grant that we who are nourished by the body and blood of your Son
may be filled with his Holy Spirit
and become one body, one spirit in Christ.
Let him make us an everlasting gift to you,
that we may share in the inheritance of your saints,
with Mary, the virgin Mother of God,
with the apostles, the martyrs,
[Saint N.], and all your saints,
on whose constant intercession we rely for help.
Lord, may this sacrifice
which has made our peace with you
advance the peace and salvation of all the world.
Strengthen in faith and love your pilgrim Church on earth:
your servant Pope Francis, our Bishop N.,
all bishops, priests, and deacons,
all ministers of your Church,
and the entire people your Son has gained for you.
hear the prayers of the family you have gathered here before you,
and unite to yourself all your children
now scattered over the face of the earth.
Welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters
and all who have left this world in your friendship.
We hope to enjoy with them your everlasting glory,
through Christ our Lord,
through whom you give the world everything that is good.
Through him, with him, In him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father,
for ever and ever.
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
grant that the Saviour of the world,
who was born this day
to bring us new and divine life,
may bestow upon us the gift of life everlasting.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Lord.
SOLEMN BLESSING (Christmas)
Bow your heads for God’s blessing.
Through the incarnation of his Son
God has scattered the darkness of the world,
and by Christ’s glorious birth,
which angels announced to the shepherds,
has brightened this most holy day [night].
• May the God of infinite goodness banish the darkness
of sin from your hearts and make them radiant with the light of goodness.
• May God fill you with the joy of the shepherds
and make you heralds of the gospel.
• May the God who joins heaven and earth
fill you with peace and goodwill
and unite you in fellowship with the Church in heaven.
I was on lay ministry duty yesterday and I took Holy Communion to four housebound parishioners.
When we began the Year A of readings a few weeks ago and we were told that Matthew’s Gospel would figure prominently I did wonder which reading would be chosen for Christmas as there obviously would be no journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, no no room at the inn and no stable birth.
Yesterday I obviously did hear our PP read the Gospel, John 1 :1-18 but it did not really register — I must have been daydreaming.
However, at my first home visit it may well have been “In beautiful language, John describes the mystery of God taking on human flesh in Jesus” but to me reading this was not an appropriate reading on Christmas Day. On Christmas Day people want to hear something of the Baby Jesus and Bethlehem.
So, I decided to go home after that first visit and got out my NRSV bible and decided that Chap 1:18-25 was the only appropriate passage from Matthew for the day that was in it. And that is what I used for the Gospel reading during my final three visits.
You have to wonder how the great scholarly minds who put these readings together could not have reached the same, simple conclusion that I reached.
There are three gospels for Dec 25. Oddly, Matthew does not occur. Midnight mass had Lk 2:1-14, dawn mass had Lk 2:15-20, and the mass during the day, as always, had the Johannine prologue. But the vigil mass the previous evening had Matthew 1:1-25 and the mass for the previous Sunday had Matthew 11:18-24 (and Saturday 17th had Matthew 1:1-17). The morning mass on Dec 24 had Lk 1:67-79, the Benedictus, and all the masses earlier that week are from Luke.
Recently I tried to explain “Christianity” to a Japanese man and it was a flop. I should just have said ‘Jesus and Mary.’ Matthew had little to say about Mary, so Luke comes to the fore at this season. Luke could not have invented Mary, the most lovable of all creatures. Many writers and painters have projected images of lovable women, but nothing approaches the Lukan portrait of Mary.
Thanks, Joe and every good wish for 2023.