CHRISTMAS NOVENA 2
Dec. 18: God showed His Love through His Son.
Gospel of the day, Advent Reading and Prayer
Dear brethren in Christ, as preparation for Christmas, below you have the corresponding Antiphon, Opening prayer and Gospel reading of the Mass and the daily 2nd reading of the Divine Office for meditation.
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Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, Catholics striving for Holiness.
- Gospel reading from St. Matthew 1:18–25
- Divine office Reading: God showed his love through His Son
Christ our King is coming, he is the Lamb foretold by John.
“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.”
The Navarre Bible Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew explains that:
“18 St Matthew relates here how Christ was conceived (cf. Lk 1:25-38): “We truly honour and venerate (Mary) as Mother of God, because she gave birth to a person who is at the same time both God and man . . .“ (St Pius V, Catechism of the Council of Trent, I, 4, 7
- According to the provisions of the Law of Moses, engagement took place about one year before marriage and enjoyed almost the same legal validity. The marriage proper consisted, among other ceremonies, in the bride being brought solemnly and joyously to her husband’s house (cf. Deut 20:7).
- From the moment of engagement onwards, a certificate of divorce was needed in the event of a break in the relationship between the couple.
- The entire account of Jesus’ birth teaches, through the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (which is expressly quoted in vv. 22-23) that: 1) Jesus has David as his ancestor since Joseph is his legal father; 2) Mary is the Virgin who gives birth according to the prophecy; 3) the Child’s conception without the intervention of man was miraculous.
19 “St Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life. That is why Scripture praises Joseph as ‘a just man’. In Hebrew a just man means a good and faithful servant of God, someone who fulfils the divine will (cf. Gen 7:1; 18:23-32; Ezek 18:5ff.; Prov 12:10), or who is honourable and charitable toward his neighbour (cf. Tob 7:6; 9:6). So a just man is someone who loves God and proves his love by keeping God’s commandments and directing his whole life towards the service of his brothers, his fellow men” (St. Josemaria, Christ is passing by, 40).
Joseph considered his spouse to be holy despite the signs that she was going to have a child. He was therefore faced with a situation he could not explain. Precisely because he was trying to do God’s will, he felt obliged to put her away; but to shield her from public shame he decided to send her away quietly.
- Mary’s silence is admirable. Her perfect surrender to God even leads her to the extreme of not defending her honour or innocence. She prefers to suffer suspicion and shame rather than reveal the work of grace in her. Faced with a fact which was inexplicable in human terms she abandons herself confidently to the love and providence of God. God certainly submitted the holy souls of Joseph and Mary to a severe trial. We ought not be surprised if we also undergo difficult trials in the course of our lives. We ought to trust in God during them, and remain faithful to him, following the example they gave us.
20 God gives his light to those who act in an upright way and who trust in his power and wisdom when faced with situations which exceed human understanding. By calling him the son of David, the angel reminds Joseph that he is the providential link which joins Jesus with the family of David, according to Nathan’s messianic prophecy (cf. 2 Sam 7:12). As St John Chrysostom says: “At the very start he straightaway reminds him of David, of whom the Christ was to spring, and he does not wish him to be worried from the moment he reminds him, through naming his most illustrious ancestor, of the promise made to all his lineage” (Hom. on St Matthew, 4).
- “The same Jesus Christ, our only Lord, the Son of God, when he assumed human flesh for us in the womb of the Virgin, was not conceived like other men, from the seed of man, but in a manner transcending the order of nature, that is, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the same Person, remaining God as he was from eternity, became man, which he was not before” (Catechism of the Council of Trent, I, 4, 1).
21 According to the Hebrew root, the name of Jesus means “saviour”. After our Lady, St Joseph is the first person to be told by God that salvation has begun.
- “Jesus is the proper name of the God-man and signifies ‘Saviour’ — a name given him not accidentally, or by the judgment or will of man, but by the counsel and command of God.
- “… All other names which prophecy gave to the Son of God — Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Prince, Prince of Peace (cf. Is 9:6) — are comprised in this one name Jesus; for while they partially signified the salvation which he was to bestow on us, this name included the force and meaning of all human salvation” (Catechism of the Council of Trent, I, 3, 5 and 6).
23 “Emmanuel”: the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, quoted in this verse, foretold about seven hundred years in advance that God’s salvation would be marked by the extraordinary event of a virgin giving birth to a son. The Gospel here, therefore, reveals two truths:
- First, that Jesus is in fact the God-with-us foretold by the prophet. This is how Christian tradition has always understood it. Indeed the Church has officially condemned an interpretation denying the messianic sense of the Isaiah text (cf. Pius VI, Brief, Divina, 1779). Christ is truly God-with-us, therefore, not only because of his God-given mission but because he is God made man (cf. Jn 1:14). This does not mean that Jesus should normally be called Emmanuel, for this name refers more directly to the mystery of his being the Incarnate Word. At the Annunciation the angel said that he should be called Jesus, i.e. Saviour. And that was the name St Joseph gave him.
- The second truth revealed to us by the sacred text is that Mary, in whom the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 is fulfilled, was a virgin before and during the birth itself. The miraculous sign given by God that salvation had arrived, was precisely that a woman would be a virgin and a mother at the same time.
- “Jesus Christ came forth from his mother’s womb without injury to her maternal virginity. This immaculate and perpetual virginity forms, therefore, the just theme of our eulogy. Such was the work of the Holy Spirit, who at the conception and birth of the Son so favoured the Virgin Mother as to impart fruitfulness to her while preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity” (Catechism of the Council of Trent, I, 4, 8).
25 St John Chrysostom, addressing himself to St Joseph, comments: “Christ’s conception was the work of the Holy Spirit, but do not think this divine economy has nothing to do with you. For although it is true that you had no part in the generation of Christ, and that the Virgin remained inviolate, nevertheless, what pertains to a father (not injuring the honour of virginity) that do I give you — the naming of the child. For ‘you shall call his name’. Although you have not generated him, you will act as a father to him. Hence it is that, beginning with giving him his name, I associate you intimately with the one who is to be born” (Hom. on St Matthew, 4).
- Following the Greek text strictly, the New Vulgate version says: “et non cognoscebat eam, donec peperit filium”. The literal English translation is: “and he knew her not until she had borne a son”. The word donec (until) of itself does not direct our attention to what happened afterwards: it simply points out what has happened up to that moment, i.e. the virginal conception of Jesus Christ by a unique intervention by God. We find the same word in Jn 9:18, where it says that the Pharisees did not believe in the miraculous cure of the man blind from birth “until” (donec) they called his parents. However, neither did they believe afterwards. Consequently, the word “until” does not refer to what happens later.
- The Vulgate adds after “filium” the words “suum primogenitum“, which in the Bible simply means “the first son”, without implying that there are any other children (cf. Ex 13:2). This Latin variant gives no ground whatsoever for thinking that our Lady had other children later. See note on Lk 2:7.
- The Church has always taught that the perpetual virginity of our Lady is a truth to be held by Catholics. For example, the following are the words of the Lateran Council of 649 A.D.: “If anyone does not profess according to the holy Fathers that in the proper and true sense the holy, ever-virgin, immaculate Mary, is the Mother of God, since in this last age not with human seed but of the Holy Spirit she properly and truly conceived the Divine Word, who was born of God the Father before all ages, and gave him birth without any detriment to her virginity, which remained inviolate even after his birth: let such a one be condemned” (can. 3).
- St Jerome gives the following reasons why it was fitting that the Mother of God, as well as being a virgin, should also be married: first, so that Mary’s child would be clearly a descendant of King David (through the genealogy of St Joseph); second, to ensure that on having a son her honour would not be questioned nor any legal penalty be imposed on her; third, so that during the flight into Egypt she would have the help and protection of St Joseph. He even points to a fourth possible reason, expressly taken from St Ignatius Martyr, and to which he seems to give less importance — that the birth of Jesus would go unnoticed by the devil, who would not know about the virginal conception of our Lord (Comm. on St Matthew, 1, 1).”
A letter to Diognetus
God showed his love through his Son
No man has ever seen God or known him, but God has revealed himself to us through faith, by which alone it is possible to see him. God, the Lord and maker of all things, who created the world and set it in order, not only loved man but was also patient with him. So he has always been, and is, and will be: kind, good, free from anger, truthful; indeed, he and he alone is good.
He devised a plan, a great and wonderful plan, and shared it only with his Son. As long as he preserved this secrecy and kept his own wise counsel he seemed to be neglecting us, to have no concern for us. But when through his beloved Son he revealed and made public what he had prepared from the very beginning, he gave us all at once gifts such as we could never have dreamt of, even sight and knowledge of himself.
When God had made all his plans in consultation with his Son, he waited until a later time, allowing us to follow our own whim, to be swept along by unruly passions, to be led astray by pleasure and desire. Not that he was pleased by our sins: he only tolerated them. Not that he approved of that time of sin: he was planning this era of holiness. When we had been shown to be undeserving of life, his goodness was to make us worthy of it. When we had made it clear that we could not enter God’s kingdom by our own power, we were to be enabled to do so by the power of God.
When our wickedness had reached its culmination, it became clear that retribution was at hand in the shape of suffering and death. The time came then for God to make known his kindness and power (how immeasurable is God’s generosity and love!). He did not show hatred for us or reject us or take vengeance; instead, he was patient with us, bore with us, and in compassion took our sins upon himself; he gave his own Son as the price of our redemption, the holy one to redeem the wicked, the sinless one to redeem sinners, the just one to redeem the unjust, the incorruptible one to redeem the corruptible, the immortal one to redeem mortals. For what else could have covered our sins but his sinlessness? Where else could we, wicked and sinful as we were, have found the means of holiness except in the Son of God alone?
How wonderful a transformation, how mysterious a design, how inconceivable a blessing! The wickedness of the many is covered up in the holy One, and the holiness of One sanctifies many sinners.
℟. There is salvation in no-one else,* for there is no other name under heaven granted to men by which we may receive salvation.
℣. His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,* for there is no other name under heaven granted to men by which we may receive salvation.
3. Video Commentary: DO YOU HAVE THE CAPACITY TO SHARE OTHER PEOPLE’S LOADS?
In today’s first reading (Jeremiah 23:5-8), Jeremiah prophesied that Israel will enter a new era with a descendant of King David ascending the throne as true king. From yesterday’s gospel genealogy, Joseph is part of that long line of descendants. Today’s gospel reading (Matthew 1:18-24) shows us that, indeed, Jesus will come from the line of David, through Joseph, who will name Him as such, which in the Hebrew Joshua, had the meaning of “Yahweh saves.” Yes, Jesus will save His people from their sin. We must emulate Joseph as he shares in the load that Mary had to carry.
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we who are weighed down from of old by slavery beneath the yoke of sin may be set free by the newness of
the long-awaited Nativity of your Only Begotten Son.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
SEE AS WELL: DEC. 18 MASS PRAYERS AND READINGS in
AUDIO CREDIT: Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
PHOTO CREDIT AND SOURCE: Adoration of the Kings by Joseph Adam Ritter von Mölk (1718-1794 ), in http://i1.wp.com/www.catholichousehold.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/7.-Adoration-of-the-Kings-Molk-1.jpg?resize=750%2C500
#CHRISTMASNOVENA 2. Dec. 18: #God showed His #Love through His #Son.
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