24th December. Christmas Eve

1st Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16

God will be a father to David’s descendant, and will build up his house

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.

And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Gospel: Luke 1:67-79

Zechariah gives thanks for God’s saving grace

Then John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.

He has raised up a mighty saviour for us

in the house of his servant David,

as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,

and has remembered his holy covenant,

the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,

to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,

might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness

before him all our days.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people

by the forgiveness of their sins.

By the tender mercy of our God,

the dawn from on high will break upon  us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”


The Lord will make you a house

God willed that own eternal Son would be the Saviour of the entire human race. In the deep prophecy of Samuel, we hear that “The Lord will make you a house!” To prepare an eternal place for us is why he came! In order to do so, in the loving plan of providence Jesus was sent among us, electing to take on our humanity, fully and in the flesh, by being born of a mother!

Thus Mary became God’s dwelling place on earth. That was her supreme role and mission: to be the mother who served God’s saving plan. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, “To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to her role. The angel Gabriel saluted her as full of grace – a woman totally ready for her great mission in life.

The same theme of loving, devoted service of God runs through the song of Zechariah. As soon as he recovered his speech, the father of John the Baptist broke out into a lavish hymn of praise to the God on whose promises we can always rely. Surely, he says, God will give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and guide our feet into the way of peace.

As God prepared Mary and John the Baptist for their role and mission, so are we too prepared for what is asked of us. This principle — that God prepares those whom He chooses for their role and mission — is true for everyone who is prepared to serve God. We are chosen and called to holiness. God has prepared us for works of service and of live; by giving us Jesus to be our Lord and guide, by calling us to the saving waters of Baptism, by giving us the support of the Church and its Sacraments, and by strengthening us to cooperate with His saving will.


Zechariah who has had nothing to say since the annunciation of John’s birth because he was struck dumb now breaks out into a great hymn of praise. At the beginning and the end of his hymn he refers to God’s visitation of his people. He begins by declaring that “God has visited his people; he has come to their rescue,” and he concludes by proclaiming that “the Dawn from on high will visit us, to give light to those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death.” Many of us will be doing some visiting over the next few days. We may we visiting the homes of family members we haven’t visited for some time. We may also be receiving visits from family members and friends. Christmas is a great time of visitation. Perhaps that is because at some deep level we know that we are celebrating the feast of the great Visitation, no so much Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, but God’s visit to his people. God visited us in his Son, like the Dawn from on high, to give light to those who live in darkness. When we visit, we try not to overstay our visit; we leave after a certain period. When God visited us, God stayed. God visited us through Jesus, whose other name was Emmanuel, God-with-us. This evening we will celebrate the feast of God-with-us. Our calling is to be a people who are with God.

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