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The Gospel for the Vigil Mass of the Nativity of the Lord is Matthew 1:1-25

At Christmas, the first verses from the first Gospel of Christ remind of the startling truth of God’s deliberate plan of Salvation History that sweeps across the entire history of mankind, with the Nativity of the Lord launching Christ’s mission in the Incarnation. God’s ultimate plan is to redeem fallen humanity through Jesus Christ.

The genealogy of Christ (verses 1-17) reveal that Christ is the son of David and the son of Abraham; this is a profound claim that Christ is the Messiah.  Abraham, the patriarch chosen by God to begin the redemption of mankind, was blessed with the miraculous birth of his son Issac to the barren Sarah to fulfill the God’s promise: “…through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed” (Gen 22:28-19). David, the descendant of Abraham and greatest King of Israel will be the kingly ancestor into who’s royal linage Christ is born; His kingdom will have no end (2 Sam 7).

The linage of Jesus underscores Christ’s plan to save all mankind. In the linage are four  women (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and the wife of Uriah), all of whom are Gentiles (not Jews) which prefigure Christ’s mission to save both Jews and Gentiles alike. Remarkably, three of the four women are associated with sexual immorality (all but Ruth) which offers the most stark contrast to the miraculous birth to the Virgin Mary. Confirming Mary’s virgin birth, while all those in the genealogy are identified as “father of”, Joseph is revealed to be “husband of” (not “father of”) Mary; this confirms the virgin birth and Joseph’s legal, but not biological, fatherhood.

Verses 17-25 of Matthew’s Gospel summarizes the more detailed Infancy Narrative of Luke (Luke 1-2). Prior to the miraculous conception of the Christ, Mary and Joseph are betrothed; in ancient Judaism, couples were formally married but did not live together and consummate their marriage for up to a year. During this period of abstinence, with Mary’s fiat, Jesus Christ is conceived in Mary’s womb. Joseph, most likely told by Mary of Christ’s miraculous conception, first decides to break off the marriage, but is convinced by an angel in a dream of God’s glorious plan; Joseph give his own “fiat” and takes Mary and the unborn Child into his home.

While various explanations for Joseph’s initial reluctance have been offered (suspicion, confusion), the most logical reason is Joseph felt unprepared and unworthy to be the foster father of the Son of God. Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is perfectly compelling and truthful; Mary would not have kept the truth from Joseph and Joseph would have believed her, for he was a supremely religious and holy man who was specifically chosen by God to be the Son’s foster father. Christ, present in Mary’s womb, would also have convinced and overwhelmed Joseph with the truth. Being holy, humble and awed by God’s miracle in Mary, Joseph would have not felt worthy or prepared to take on such a awesome responsibility. It is only through the angel’s revelation Joseph is convinced; once convinced, Joseph lives out his vocation to be the celibate husband of Mary and foster father to the Son of God.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ from the beginning of time has caused the great and mysterious blessing of Salvation History to unfold. Divine King, Christ is the culmination of and descendant in His human nature of the great kings of God’s chosen people. Son of Man, Christ is the perfection of manhood and the savior of all mankind. Divine Prophet, Christ inspires Isaiah’s prophecy of His birth which helps convince the unworthy Joseph to accept foster fatherhood.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) While every man has an ancestral linage, Christ’s linage mysteriously reveals the astounding fulfillment of God’s promise of the Salvation of mankind. Be awed at how God’s great plan of Salvation History is unfolding.

2) One of the great themes of Salvation History is the destructive impact of sexual immorality but how those who repent can be forgiven and be drawn into God’s blessings. During Christmas, reflect on the Call to Chastity (CCC 2337-2359) and pray for the Virgin Mary to intercede so that you may grow in chastity and love for Christ.

3) While modern society denigrates men and the absolute essential need for fathers, meditate on the truth that God the Father insisted that the Son of God have an earthly father, Joseph.  Reflect upon St. Joseph (CCC 437, 532) and pray for St. Joseph’s intercession that you might become a spiritual father to many.

The Gospel reading from the Mass during the day for December 24 is Luke 1:67-79.

Following his miraculous encounter with the Archangel Gabriel in the Temple and his skepticism that his barren wife could become pregnant, the priest Zechariah is struck mute for nine months until the birth and naming of his son, John the Baptist. Upon the birth of his son, his confirmation of his son’s name and miraculous return of his voice, Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit and moved to prophesy.

Zechariah’s prophecy, called the Canticle (song) of Zechariah and The Benedictus (Latin for “blessed”), is a beautiful, poetic and truthful exclamation of the Salvation of Christ. Beginning with praise to God, similar to Our Lady’s Magnificat, Zechariah gives thanks to God for: presence and redemption of Israel, the fulfillment of prophecy given to Abraham and that David’s line would be the source of salvation, protection and triumph over Israel’s enemies and the gift of serving God without fear in righteousness.

Zechariah then turns to prophecy about John the Baptist and the coming salvation in Christ. Christ causes Zechariah to predict: John the Baptist will be Christ’s prophet (prophet of the Most High) to prepare His way, Christ will teach (give light) His people about the forgiveness of sins and guide them to His salvation and peace. All of Zechariah’s prophecies come to pass in Christ Jesus.

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ inspires prophets across the ages to proclaim His plan of Salvation. Son of God, Christ fulfills all His promises, including those revealed by Zechariah, through the Incarnation. Divine Mercy, Christ intercedes and forgives the sins of the repentant. Son of Mary, Christ inflames the heart of John the Baptist throughout his life, from the womb through John’s death by beheading. 

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) The Canticle of Zechariah is not only beautifully poetic and rich in Old Testament references but is also prophecy that comes to pass. Re-read verses 76-79 and be awed that Zechariah’s words are perfectly fulfilled in Christ Jesus. 

2) Sadly, Zechariah’s call for men to turn away from darkness goes unheeded, as the modern world plunges into all kinds of evil. During Advent, resolve to Turn Away from Darkness (CCC 1866, 457, 588, 1691, 1707) and pray for Christ to help turn away from the darkness of sin in your life. 

3) As in the time of Zechariah, the world is marred with anger and violence as men fight for power, control and to assert their ideologies. During Advent, reflect upon the Prince of Peace (CCC 260, 2302-2306) and ask Christ to help you to turn to His way of peace. 

The Gospel reading from the Mass for the 4th week of Advent for Sunday Cycle C is Luke 1:39-45.

Mary, having accepted God’s will for her to become the “Mother of God” and informed of her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy, travels for four days (some 80 miles) to the hill country of Judea. Though the Gospels are silent, St. Joseph may have guided Mary on this arduous journey. Mary, born without sin, was a young teenager who was betrothed (married) to Joseph; it would have been disobedient, imprudent and unloving to disappear for at least three months (Luke 1:56) without speaking with her husband. Joseph, the great saint who later proves to be a fearless protector and provider for Mary and Jesus; it would have been unmanly to have failed to accompany his teenage bride on the dangerous journey. 

There are mysterious echoes of the Old Testament in Mary’s journey.  In the Old Testament, King David travels to the hill country of Judea to reclaim the lost Ark of the Covenant which is overshadowed by God’s presence (Exod 40:35); Mary travels to the same area and is the Ark of the New Covenant in which the Son of God resides. King David finds the Ark and is overwhelmed by feelings of unworthiness; Elizabeth has the same response when she greets Mary. King David leaps with joy in the presence of the Ark; John the Baptist leaps with joy in Elizabeth’s womb. King David returns the Ark of the (Old) Covenant to Jerusalem; Christ will return to Jerusalem and, in His Passion and Resurrection, establish the New Covenant. 

Elizabeth is miraculously moved by the Holy Spirit upon Mary’s arrival. Without being told Mary is pregnant (only a few weeks into her pregnancy, Mary does not “show”), Elizabeth recognizes (“Blessed are you…blessed is the fruit of your womb”) Mary’s miraculous conception. Elizabeth is divinely inspired to exalt Mary as “the mother of my Lord.” Mysteriously, Mary’s voice is heard by John the Baptist, still three months away from birth in Elizabeth’s womb, which causes John to leap with joy.  

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ even in the earliest stages of gestation in Mary’s womb has a powerful impact on Elizabeth and the unborn John. Divine King, Christ’s presence causes Elizabeth to be the first to recognize Mary’s Queenship (in ancient Jewish culture, the mother of the king was queen). Divine Prophet, Christ inspires mysterious connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament. 

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) While the beautiful devotion of the Rosary has been prayed in some form for 1000 years, the key parts of the “Hail Mary” (“Hail Mary, full of Grace..”, “Blessed are you among women…”) are from Gabriel’s and Elizabeth’s words recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Be awed that words uttered by angels and saints in awe of Christ 2000 years ago are repeated by millions today. 

2) The “Hail Mary” and the Rosary provide men the beautiful ability to draw closer to Christ and His Blessed Mother.  During Advent, reflect upon Praying in Communion with the Holy Mother of God (CCC 2673-2682, 2708, 1674) and ask Christ to help you grow in your devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  

3) During Advent, reflect upon The Visitation (CCC 148, 495, 717), marveling at Elizabeth’s stunning revelations about Christ and Mary; reflect also upon both Joseph’s and Zechariah’s (Elizabeth’s husband) experience of awe at being in the presence of Christ, Mary and St. John the Baptist. 

The Gospel reading from the Mass for December 22 is Luke 1:46-56.

Following Mary’s arrival in Judea and her kinswoman Elizabeth’s immortalized exaltation (“Blessed are you among women…”; the Rosary) of Our Lady and Christ Jesus in her womb, Mary full of humble joy, directs attention to the glory and praise of God. Mary’s joyous Magnificat (Latin: “magnifies”) is a divinely inspired and poetic hymn of praise to God for His blessings throughout Salvation History.

The Magnificat begins with Mary’s grateful response to the blessings that God has bestowed upon her. Mary acknowledges she is a simple and humble soul (a handmaiden) who exists to for God’s will to be done (“My soul magnifies the Lord”). Astoundingly, Mary prophetically announces that “all generations will call me blessed.” Our Lady acknowledges the “great things” God has done for her; Mary has been blessed to be the Immaculate Conception (born without sin) and has been chosen by God to bear His Only Son.

Mary glorifies God and His intervention in the lives of men across time. Mary exalts God’s mercy (“for those who fear Him”), His powerful intervention in the lives of men (strength of His arm), His comfort for the persecuted poor (“exalted those of low degree”; “filled the hungry”),His justice against evil doers (“put down the mighty”; “rich…sent away empty”) and His protection, salvation and closeness to Israel (“helped His servant Israel..for ever”).

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity and Son of Mary, Christ fills His mother with joy and inspires Mary to give Him glory. Divine Prophet, Christ reveals to His mother the truth that “all generations will call [Mary] blessed.”

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Despite being the Son of God, Jesus, in His human nature, “grew in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52) under the watchful guidance of Mary and Joseph. Marvel at the powerful and enduring Magnificat of Mary, realizing it is one beautiful example of the kinds of holiness Jesus heard from His mother (CCC 2599).

2) Mary is not typically thought of as a prophet even though her words often prophetically speak of the future. During Advent, be awed that Mary’s prophecy in today’s Gospel reveals that “all generations will call me blessed”; Mary’s prophecy continues to be proven true even today every time one of the billion+ Catholics around the world say a “Hail Mary.”

3) Each man enjoys immeasurable daily blessings, including the priceless gift of life and a multitude of small blessings (health, freedom, food, shelter, protection, family, friends, work, etc.). During Advent, reflect upon the Magnificat (CCC 273, 722, 971, 2097, 2617-2619, 2622, 2675) be inspired by Mary to give Christ thanks for your many blessings; join the Church in the praying of the Magnificat.

The Gospel reading from the Mass for December 21 is Luke 1:39-45.

Mary, having accepted God’s will for her to become the “Mother of God” and informed of her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy, travels for four days (some 80 miles) to the hill country of Judea. Though the Gospels are silent, St. Joseph may have guided Mary on this arduous journey. Mary, born without sin, was a young teenager who was betrothed (married) to Joseph; it would have been disobedient, imprudent and unloving to disappear for at least three months (Luke 1:56) without speaking with her husband. Joseph, the great saint who later proves to be a fearless protector and provider for Mary and Jesus; it would have been unmanly to have failed to accompany his teenage bride on the dangerous journey.

There are mysterious echoes of the Old Testament in Mary’s journey.  In the Old Testament, King David travels to the hill country of Judea to reclaim the lost Ark of the Covenant which is overshadowed by God’s presence (Exod 40:35); Mary travels to the same area and is the Ark of the New Covenant in which the Son of God resides. King David finds the Ark and is overwhelmed by feelings of unworthiness; Elizabeth has the same response when she greets Mary. King David leaps with joy in the presence of the Ark; John the Baptist leaps with joy in Elizabeth’s womb. King David returns the Ark of the (Old) Covenant to Jerusalem; Christ will return to Jerusalem and, in His Passion and Resurrection, establish the New Covenant.

Elizabeth is miraculously moved by the Holy Spirit upon Mary’s arrival. Without being told Mary is pregnant (only a few weeks into her pregnancy, Mary does not “show”), Elizabeth recognizes (“Blessed are you…blessed is the fruit of your womb”) Mary’s miraculous conception. Elizabeth is divinely inspired to exalt Mary as “the mother of my Lord.” Mysteriously, Mary’s voice is heard by John the Baptist, still three months away from birth in Elizabeth’s womb, which causes John to leap with joy.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ even in the earliest stages of gestation in Mary’s womb has a powerful impact on Elizabeth and the unborn John. Divine King, Christ’s presence causes Elizabeth to be the first to recognize Mary’s Queenship (in ancient Jewish culture, the mother of the king was queen). Divine Prophet, Christ inspires mysterious connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) While the beautiful devotion of the Rosary has been prayed in some form for 1000 years, the key parts of the “Hail Mary” (“Hail Mary, full of Grace..”, “Blessed are you among women…”) are from words in Luke’s Gospel. Be awed that words uttered by angels and saints in awe of Christ 2000 years ago are repeated by millions today.

2) The “Hail Mary” and the Rosary provide men the beautiful ability to draw closer to Christ and His Blessed Mother.  During Advent, reflect upon Praying in Communion with the Holy Mother of God (CCC 2673-2682, 2708, 1674) and ask Christ to help you grow in your devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

3) During Advent, reflect upon The Visitation (CCC 148, 495, 717), marveling at Elizabeth’s stunning revelations about Christ and Mary; reflect also upon both Joseph’s and Zechariah’s (Elizabeth’s husband) experience of awe at being in the presence of Christ, Mary and St. John the Baptist.