A reading from the Second Book of Samuel
(Chapter 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16)
God made a series of promises to his people, recorded throughout the Old Testament, that are called covenants. The one described in the Second Book of Samuel is the Davidic covenant with King David and the whole Jewish people. God says that covenant will endure forever, an important thing to remember as we celebrate the birth of the Messiah.
(Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29)
This psalm refers to the previous reading about the promise to David. The response that we sing is “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.” Saint Augustine said that when we sing our prayers it is like praying twice. That is something to be aware of when we sing hymns or psalms.
A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans
Paul talks about “the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages.” This is a mystery in the deepest sense of the word, not like a mystery story in which there is an answer, even though it may take a while for the detective to find out “who done it.” No! This mystery is the continual unfolding of God’s love for us in Jesus, and it is this mystery that you and I live every day. Imagine that! The true mystery of life is the unfolding of God’s love for us in and through our brother Jesus Christ. We live in mystery. Although we may not think about it often, it is always there.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke
This reading is preceded by Luke’s account of the birth of John the Baptist. John is seen as the end of a whole series of Old Testament prophets through whom God visits his people. Jesus is someone entirely different: “The child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” He is descended from the line of David through his foster father, Joseph, but he is born of his mother, Mary, a poor young woman, by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is all we know. A unique person is born in a unique way through the power of God. It is just the beginning of a unique life that has a unique conclusion. CNN or The New York Times were not there to record it. For us, it is part of our journey into the mystery of God’s agape, his unconditional love.
May you have a joyous Christmas and know that the Spirit of God is always within you.
Painting: St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus, Guido Reni (1620s). Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. Public domain.
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved. The passage regarding the wedding garment is from The New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.