Daily Archives: December 25, 2016

25 December, Mass in the Day – Everything

25 December

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Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful on the mountains,
are the feet of one who brings good news,
who heralds peace, brings happiness,
proclaims salvation,
and tells Zion,
‘Your God is king!’

Listen! Your watchmen raise their voices,
they shout for joy together,
for they see the Lord face to face,
as he returns to Zion.

Break into shouts of joy together,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord is consoling his people,
redeeming Jerusalem.

The Lord bares his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

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Hebrews 1:1-6

At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son, the Son that he has appointed to inherit everything and through whom he made everything there is. He is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, sustaining the universe by his powerful command; and now that he has destroyed the defilement of sin, he has gone to take his place in heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty. So he is now as far above the angels as the title which he has inherited is higher than their own name.

God has never said to any angel: You are my Son, today I have become your father; or: I will be a father to him and he a son to me. Again, when he brings the First-Born into the world, he says: Let all the angels of God worship him.

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John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word:
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things came to be,
not one thing had its being but through him.
All that came to be had life in him
and that life was the light of men,
a light that shines in the dark,
a light that darkness could not overpower.

A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light,
only a witness to speak for the light.

The Word was the true light
that enlightens all men;
and he was coming into the world.
He was in the world
that had its being through him,
and the world did not know him.
He came to his own domain
and his own people did not accept him.
But to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to all who believe in the name of him
who was born not out of human stock
or urge of the flesh
or will of man
but of God himself.

The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father,
full of grace and truth.

John appears as his witness. He proclaims:
‘This is the one of whom I said:
He who comes after me ranks before me
because he existed before me.’

Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received –
yes, grace in return for grace,
since, though the Law was given through Moses,
grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God;
it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart,
who has made him known.

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“Through Him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through Him.”

 Everything comes from God. This is easy to accept from a cocoon of comfort, earthly fulfilment, and perceived happiness. What is harder to fathom, are the hurts, disappointments, and injustice in our world that we have all come to experience over the course of our lives. Even Jesus was not spared from such trials, which shaped His life and being in preparation for His role as the “radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of His nature”.

Many times during my faith journey, I have asked our God who works wonders, to work miracles in my life. Many of my requests seemingly appeared unanswered, while God moulded and shaped me in His perfect ways, and perfect time; using me as His instrument. Just like how the prophets in the second reading, and John the Baptist did their part to prepare for Christ’s coming, we all serve God’s purposes for this earthly world in our unique way. This was not an easy realisation to arrive at, but rather was one forged in a crucible of prayer, meditation, reflection, and especially time with community.

For many, Christmas involves taking some well-deserved time off, and being with our communities of family and friends. During this holiday season however, many of us insulate ourselves from our trials, challenges, and difficult relationships only to have to face them head-on once the new year begins. We overindulge in food, drink, and superficial merriment, without truly acknowledging the healing we need and the brokenness within us. I’ve always asked myself if there is a better way to glorify God during this special season, while still celebrating the end of another year gone by. This year, I’ve decided to try something different and I invite you to join me.

Friends, let us take some time today to ponder on the events and people in our lives. The strokes of good luck, and the crosses that seem too heavy to bear, our hard-won successes, and catastrophic failures, the simple blessings, and the grating inconveniences. Our nearest and dearest, and the colleagues we barely tolerate, our childhood friends, and the new neighbours from abroad. Let us spend quality time building authentic relationships with the people God has called into our lives, and let us acknowledge God’s hand in every person and circumstance in our lives. Let us make this Christmas season a meaningful one that nourishes our hearts and minds, and not just our bodies.

May God fill us with the grace to accept His plans for us, just as He wove the haphazard events of His own son’s life into a tapestry of love that fills our hearts and homes from today until eternity.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Anonymous)

Prayer: Lord, we ask for the child-like faith to trust in you no matter what comes our way. Fill us with wonder and gratitude as we journey with you in this life.  

Thanksgiving: Dearest Father, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everything and everyone that you bring into our lives as you patiently nurture us to be instruments of your will.

25 December, Mass at Dawn – The Light of God

25 December

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Isaiah 62:11-12

This the Lord proclaims
to the ends of the earth:

Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Look,
your saviour comes,
the prize of his victory with him,
his trophies before him.’
They shall be called ‘The Holy People’,
‘the Lord’s Redeemed.’
And you shall be called ‘The-sought-after’,
‘City-not-forsaken.’

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Titus 3:4-7

When the kindness and love of God our saviour for mankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.

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Luke 2:15-20

When the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

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“This day new light will shine upon the earth – the Lord is born for us”

The bright bluish light sparkled like a diamond and dropped, and then it sparkled again, and dropped. I called it, the ‘tear-drop light’. I was totally enthralled by it when it was first introduced at the Orchard Road Christmas light-up a few years ago. That year, the theme was ‘fairyland’, and it was as if these tear-drops hanging high up above the streets, lit up and awakened the sleeping fairies, elves and icons of Christmas lined up below the street lamps. It was a dazzling, enchanting sight.

This year, I chanced upon this ‘tear-drop light’ again. For a moment, I was excited by the familiar sight. But strangely, it no longer held my attention. It no longer touched me. It took me a while before I realised why. The deepen question in my heart was, “What has the ‘tear-drop light’ lit up for me?”

The ‘tear-drop light’ I saw this year, in my heartland, was disconnected from the rest of the Christmas decorations set up in another part of the street. On its own, it looked lonely — as each droplet sparkled and vanished into the dark, it re-appeared three seconds later; only to disappear again. The cycle tirelessly repeats itself and slowly, it began to hold my attention again. Despite its loneliness, despite not lighting up any other Christmas decorations, it continued to shine on its own, slowly and steadily. As I stayed on a little longer to observe, its intermittent sparkling light was actually gently lighting up the ordinary trees and shrubs along the sidewalk, giving a soft bluish glow, like icing on those everyday evergreens. It was a warm, humbling and enchanting sight, right here in my heartland.

As the first light of dawn breaks over the horizon this morning, like the shepherds of that first Christmas morning, we ordinary men and women, enthralled by the celestial light and message of the angels, hurried away from our heartland to town (Bethlehem), only to find our Lord born in a manger – a humbling sight. Our Lord humbled himself from the pedestal of divinity to becoming incarnate in the flesh and to embrace humanity. Our God is with us (Emmanuel) to journey with us in this world as He continues to glow and grow in our hearts, each day, each moment.

Has the tear-drop celestial light of Christ touched your heart this Christmas morning? Has Christ found a permanent dwelling in your humbled heart? This morning, we respond together with the Psalmist,  “This day new light will shine upon the earth: the Lord is born for us.” Happy birthday, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

(Today’s Oxygen by Stefanie Ng)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, we are restless souls dazzled by the myriad of distracting lights on earth. On this Christmas morning, “by renewing us with the Holy Spirit”, helps us to re-focus only on you — the eternal and life-giving light.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord Jesus Christ, by your incarnation, you embrace humanity and journey tirelessly with us to show us how to be like you, ‘gentle and humble in heart.’ Thank you, Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, for your faithfulness to God’s will in caring, protecting and nurturing Infant Jesus.

25 December, Midnight Mass – Love and Sacrifice

Dec 25 – Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

The name “Christmas” was derived from Old English: “Cristes Maesse”, Christ’s Mass. It is a celebration of the anniversary of the birth of our Lord. In the earliest days of the Church there was no such feast; the Saviour’s birth was commemorated with the Epiphany by the Greek and other Eastern Churches.

The first mention of the feast, then kept on May 20, was made by Clement of Alexandria in the year 200. The Latin Church began in the year 300 to observe it on Dec 25, though there is no certainty that our Lord was born on that day.

Priests have, on this day, the privilege of saying three Masses, at midnight; daybreak, and morning. This was originally reserved for the pope alone; beginning about the fourth century, he celebrated a midnight Mass in the Lateran Basilica (in which according to tradition, the manger of Bethlehem is preserved), a second in the church of St. Anastasia, whose feast comes on Dec 25, and a third at the Vatican Basilica.

Many peculiar customs of the day are the outcome of the pagan celebrations of the January calends. The Christmas tree, of which the first known mention was made in 1605 at Strasbourg, was introduced into France and England in 1840. The feast is a holy day of obligation, preceded by the preparatory season of Advent and by a special vigil; should it fall on a Friday it abrogates the law of abstinence.

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Isaiah 9:1-7

The people that walked in darkness
has seen a great light;
on those who live in a land of deep shadow
a light has shone.
You have made their gladness greater,
you have made their joy increase;
they rejoice in your presence
as men rejoice at harvest time,
as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils.

For the yoke that was weighing on him,
the barb across his shoulders,
the rod of his oppressor,
these you break as on the day of Midian.

For all the footgear of battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
is burnt,
and consumed by fire.

For there is a child born for us,
a son given to us
and dominion is laid on his shoulders;
and this is the name they give him:
Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God,
Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace.
Wide is his dominion
in a peace that has no end,
for the throne of David
and for his royal power,
which he establishes and makes secure
in justice and integrity.
From this time onwards and for ever,
the jealous love of the Lord of Hosts will do this.

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Titus 2:11-14

God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race and taught us that what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions; we must be self-restrained and live good and religious lives here in this present world, while we are waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the Appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Christ Jesus. He sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.

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Luke 2:1-14

Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken. This census – the first – took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to be registered. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judaea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn.

In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing:

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace to men who enjoy his favour.’

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The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.

Each holiday season, the people at my parish organize something called ‘Adopt A Family’ for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The program matches us with lower-income families, to help them with financing family dinners and gifts for their children. While the intentions of the program are noble, I often get discouraged by some of the requests I see on wishlists. This year, I was matched with a single mother and her spoiled 11-yr old son. She asked for warm blankets and a new iron. He wanted the latest Beats 2 headphones and a pair of fancy Jordan basketball shoes. What must the conversation be like in their household? It made me reflect on the meaning of Christmas. When parents struggle to make ends meet, yet children have unreasonable demands, the meaning of Christmas is overshadowed by the weight of unmet expectations and resentment on both sides. As a parent, how do you cope with that?

I think of Mary and the demands that were made of her as she travelled with Joseph to Bethlehem. It can’t be much fun being pregnant and stressed out from traveling. Behind the candlelit romance of the nativity scene, we forget that Jesus’ birth was nothing short of traumatic for his mother. The manger would have smelled. It would have been cold. She would have been exhausted, but she just kept going.

A parent’s love transcends all suffering. That’s a universal truth. We see that even in this dubious age of conspicuous consumption. A mother will work two jobs just to provide her child the luxuries she can’t afford. Why? Because the ultimate expression of love is sacrifice as Mary, and Christ, showed us. This season, as parents, there will be times when we will grit our teeth with frustration from the unreasonable demands that are made of us. Giving, like love requires sacrifice, but sometimes we give with doubt and resentment in our hearts. Let’s not let our anger stop us from experiencing the true meaning of Christmas. Like Mary, or the mother of that spoiled 11-yr old, God will find us where we are and give us the resources – financial, spiritual, emotional and physical – to see us through. Have faith that there will be deliverance into the light, even for those of us who are beleaguered parents.

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for all families who struggle with providing for their children this season.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the individuals who sacrificed to give us better lives, even when we were too spoiled and self-absorbed to fully appreciate their efforts.