Scripture Notes – Christmas Day 2020

Dear friends, I wish you all every blessing for Christmas 2020. May be it be for us all a blessed time and a safe time as we reconnect with family and friends.

The fresco is by Pinturicchio and is in the Augustinian church of Santa Maria del Popolo (Rome).

As noted in the email for Advent 4, this year has obliged us all to reflect again on what it meant to be human, in all its fragility and glory. We are more aware than ever of sickness, mortality, health, compassion, community, responsibility, generosity, scientific advances and our belonging together on space-ship earth. The becoming human of the Son of God shows us God embracing fully our humanity, to speak to us from within, Emmanuel God-with-us.

If there is time, a good place to find further inspiration might be the new book by the bishop of Rome, entitled Let Us Dream. The Path to a Better Future. It is readily available (hardback, Kindle, audio and CD). T

The richness of the feast

The feast of Christmas offers no fewer than four sets of readings, almost too much. This year, with extra services to accommodate the numbers permitted, it may well be that all four sets might get an airing. Putting it all very schematically:

  • Matthew 1:1-25: the genealogy shows Jesus emerging from a very human past, with darkness and light.
  • Luke 2:1-14 we see the extraordinary ordinariness of Jesus’ birth.
  • Luke 2:15-20: we are invited to inwards, to contemplate, to take to heart.
  • John 1:1-18: The gospel uses the uniquely human power of the word, as God speaks to us through the only-begotten Son.

Introducing the readings

I would like to make a particular appeal this year: please consider giving a brief introduction to each reading. This can be of great help to people. Examples are provided in the notes — but it would be even better to create your own. No more than three sentences or so per reading, to help people feel the power of the word and experience wonder of the feast. If people are not somehow helped to benefit from the readings, why read them at all?

Christmas Day Readings

Christmas Vigil Mass

Christmas Midnight Mass

Christmas Dawn Mass

Christmas Day Mass

Some music for the feast

There is any amount of excellent and extrovert music for the feast. To capture the deep sense of wonder, to go inwards, so to speak, you might like Victoria “O Magnum Mysterium”. Four young voices do it justice on this recording. The words are:

O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the newborn Lord, lying in a manger! Blessed is the virgin whose womb was worthy to bear the Lord, Jesus Christ. Alleluia!

(O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum, ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, iacentem in praesepio! Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Iesum Christum. Alleluia!

Kieran J. O’Mahony OSA