Bideford Catholic Churches

Sunday Gospel - December 25th 2019

Sunday Gospel - The Nativity of the Lord

'The ancestry and birth of Jesus Christ, the son of David'

Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamar being their mother,
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram was the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,
Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother,
Obed was the father of Jesse; and Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Azariah,
Azariah was the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah;
and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.

Then the deportation to Babylon took place.
After the deportation to Babylon:-
Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor was the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud was the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob; and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.

The sum of generations is therefore: fourteen from Abraham to David; fourteen from David to the Babylonian deportation; and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation to Christ. This is how Jesus Christ came to be born.

His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.' Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel, a name which means 'God-is-with-us.' When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home and, though he had not had intercourse with her, she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.

Monsignor Robert Draper - Gospel Reflection
For practical and pastoral reasons most parishes will celebrate mass over Christmas without using the great range of readings on offer: four sets of readings to cover the four masses for Christmas; at the Vigil, during the night, at dawn and mass during the day. Nonetheless by giving time to explore the Lectionary, everyone can take advantage of this rich diet of scripture to encounter the many dimensions of the Feast of the Incarnation. In terms of the gospel, the Vigil Mass asks us to see the birth of Jesus in the history of Israel and in the context of the promises made by God throughout the Old Testament to the men (and note, of women too) of faith. The Mass at night ("midnight mass") gives us the journey of Mary and Joseph (echoing modern day migrants and refugees) and the birth in the stable. The dawn mass gives us the shepherds - the marginal people to whom the angels announce Good News. The Mass during the day gives us the profound prologue of John's gospel - the Incarnation expressed in the context of all time and all space. The four readings from the Old Testament all offer us wonderful promise and hope from the prophet Isaiah, a promise made flesh in the birth of Christ, but also offering the final hope to be realized for all people. The readings from Acts, both of those from Paul to Titus, and from the letter to the Hebrews all insist on the present reality of what God has done in Jesus.

By taking the time to open up these readings, those who celebrate the Nativity can savour the depths of what God has done, is doing and will do in Christ. At this time of the year, it so easy to slip into the "spirit" of Christmas which is mainly nostalgia and consumerism; but for those who will gather at the Eucharist, God's Word offers a much wider perspective on this celebration: a celebration that reaches back into the depths of God's promise and stretches forward to its eventual realization, even as today we come together to celebrate the birth of the infant at Bethlehem.

Merry Christmas from all of us at the Diocese of Plymouth