Christmas Mass Readings


Luke carefully places the birth of Jesus in its wider political background. He is born in real time, part of the Empire. But Luke also emphasises the centrality of the poor, represented by the shepherds who receive the first annunciation of the birth (Luke 2:1-14).The ‘messianic oracle’ of Isaiah would seem to have been originally addressed to those returning from the yoke of exile. The throne names given to the child looks forward to a ruler who is far greater than the human descendants of David (Isaiah 9:2-7).Titus illustrates the faith of the Christian – that we live in a world graced by God as we await the Parusia (Titus 2:11-14).


The shepherds are the first messengers of the birth and their openness contrasts with the calm reflection of Mary (Luke 2:15-20). The Lord proclaims to all the riches that are returning to the people of Jerusalem after the Exile (Isaiah 62:11-12). Titus proclaims God and Jesus as Saviour and baptism as the means to justification (Titus 3:4-7).


The great Prologue of John is proclaimed as a renewal of Creation. The Word ever present, the light, became flesh, witnessed by John (John 1:1-18). The hymn of Isaiah sings of the return of the Lord to Zion after the Exile (Isaiah 52:7-10). Hebrews begins with a clear presentation of the Son of God, the definitive word of God as higher than the angels (Hebrews 1:1-6).

The third rule that Dei Verbum gives for the interpretation of Scripture is that attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture along with the Tradition of the entire Church and the analogy of faith (DV 12). The proclamation of the Church at Christmas is precisely that the whole of the Scriptures and Tradition of the Church centre on the Creator and Saviour, revealed fully in the Word made flesh, incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and born at Bethlehem. The Scriptures themselves incarnate the truths of the faith in a parallel way to the Incarnation and Nativity. “Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of human beings, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men.” (DV 13). It is the Church’s task to help bring to birth the word of life.

Canon Mervyn Tower

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