25 December, Sunday — His compassion saved us

Dec 25 – Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Mass at Dawn)

The name ‘Christmas’ was derived from Old English: ‘Cristes Maesse’ — Christ’s Mass. It is a celebration of the anniversary of the birth of our Lord. In the earliest days of the Church, there was no such feast; the Saviour’s birth was commemorated with the Epiphany by the Greek and other Eastern Churches.

The first mention of the feast, then kept on May 20, was made by Clement of Alexandria in the year 200. The Latin Church began in the year 300 to observe it on Dec 25, though there is no certainty that our Lord was born on that day.

Priests have, on this day, the privilege of saying three Masses — at midnight; daybreak, and morning. This was originally reserved for the pope alone; beginning about the fourth century, he celebrated a midnight Mass in the Lateran Basilica (in which according to tradition, the manger of Bethlehem is preserved), a second in the church of St. Anastasia, whose feast comes on Dec 25, and a third at the Vatican Basilica.

Many peculiar customs of the day are the outcome of the pagan celebrations of the January calends. The Christmas tree, of which the first known mention was made in 1605 at Strasbourg, was introduced into France and England in 1840. The feast is a holy day of obligation, preceded by the preparatory season of Advent and by a special vigil; should it fall on a Friday, it abrogates the law of abstinence.

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Isa 62:11-12
Tit 3:4-7
Lk 2:15-20

It was not because He was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves.

Good morning, my brothers and sisters! What a beautiful day! But, my heart feels a tinge of melancholy. Wasn’t it only a year ago that I wrote the reflection for this day, reflecting on the same verses? I’m not quite ready to bid 2022 good-bye. Perhaps it’s because Christmas is so special to me that I don’t want the day to fly by. If only every day could be Christmas.

Looking back on the past year, I feel ‘undeservedly’ blessed with a tinge of guilt. Truly, I did nothing to merit His love and attention. I have a deep-seated conviction that God’s goodness and affection toward me stem from His unfailing love for me, not from any outstanding deeds I may have done. I have been too pre-occupied with studies, assignments and exams over the past year, that it has left me with little time to sit still, be silent, and listen to God. I have only subsisted in my spiritual life. And yet, God never left me.

Early in December, I read a fellow Oxygen writer’s lament, recounting how she was unprepared for the holiday season, unprepared for Christ’s birth, and how she felt out of sync with God. I empathize with how she feels. And therefore, today’s second reading speaks to me. I see God our Father looking at me with these tender loving eyes, shaking His head like the father of an unruly child who persists in running all around the place, causing a ruckus.

Rather than being so pre-occupied and busy, all this unruly child needs to do first and foremost, is to focus on Him. To concentrate solely on God, I need to silence the incessant buzz in my thoughts and put life’s busyness aside. To live in accordance to the Lord’s purpose, I have to listen to what He is telling me. How He is guiding me step by step. Not in this crazy business, but in silence and stillness.

Today, we commemorate the magnificent birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Our church has been in preparation for 29 days, our homes are decorated and adorned for this occasion. Even if we have been too busy with the physical preparations, it’s not too late to prepare ourselves spiritually this morning. Before the busyness of the day sets in; before the festivities and parties. I invite you to close your eyes for a moment and view Christmas through the eyes of faith. Let us reflect on the grace of God, on His immense love and kindness.

His love has cleansed us through our rebirth in Jesus Christ – the most precious gift, not only in this season, but in our entire lives. Let us just quieten our hearts and minds, and prepare a home in our heart for Christ to dwell in. It is, without a doubt, the most wonderful time of the year.

Today, let us also celebrate also the gift of Papa Joseph and Mama Mary. For it is their respective ‘yes’ to bringing up the Son of God, we celebrate this blessed day.

Dear brothers and sisters, during this time of faith and family, may the true meaning of Christmas fill you with joy. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Father, your love and compassion is immeasurable. Help us to live lives worthy of your love and our titles as Your sons and daughters. Today, as we celebrate the birthday of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, help us to remember the reason for this season and prepare a place in our hearts for Him.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for giving us the gift of eternal life. For the gift of the Holy Spirit and loving us so much that you gifted us with your Beloved Son, Our Saviour, Jesus. Glory be to God!

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