Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

The Nativity of the Lord Christmas, Mass of the Day


 

THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD - CHRISTMAS

 

Reading 1: (Isa 52:7-10)

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,
announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,
“Your God is King!”

Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry,
together they shout for joy,
for they see directly, before their eyes,
the LORD restoring Zion.
Break out together in song,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the LORD comforts his people,
he redeems Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations;
all the ends of the earth will behold
the salvation of our God.

Reading 2: (Heb 1:1-6) 

Brothers and sisters:
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways
to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son,
whom he made heir of all things
and through whom he created the universe,
who is the refulgence of his glory,
the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished purification from sins,
he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
as far superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say:
You are my son; this day I have begotten you?
Or again:
I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me?
And again, when he leads the firstborn into the world, he says:
Let all the angels of God worship him.

Gospel: (Jn 1:1-18)

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: God acts in human history.

            Some people are so easily convinced by the saying: “All religions are good, because all teach people to do good and to avoid evil.” From this, they come to a conclusion that people can choose any religion to believe. If we rely only on that saying to believe in a god, there are many gods in this world; but these gods didn’t do any good to us. There are some gods who were products of human imagination; some called themselves gods; some were adored by people. Who is the real God who controls this world? One of the standards which can help us to recognize Him is to rely on human history to find out, to examine, and to determine His intervention in human life.

            During the whole Advent season and in today readings show us the portrait of this real God who is the Lord of Israel. He isn’t a god who lived far away for people and didn’t concern with human life. In opposition, all three Persons of the One God live intimately with people and concern with all aspects of human life, from the beginning of human history to the Last Day. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah showed God’s intervention in Jewish history before, during and after the exile. In the second reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews showed us two different ways that God intervened in human history: from the old time, He used prophets to teach people; but later, He used His Son who was incarnated to teach people. This later way was foretold by the peophets Isaiah and Jeremiah: “All shall be taught by God Himself” (Isa 54:13, Jer 31:33, Jn 6:45). In the Fourth Gospel, St. John the apostle saw Christ’s role from the beginning when God created the world, and his role in God’s plan of salvation. The Second Person incarnated to be with human beings, to teach them God’s ways, and to sacrifice himself on the cross in order to take away all their sins.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”

1.1/ God let the Israelites return from the exile: Isaiah wrote: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns." Hark, your watchmen lift up their voice, together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion.” The herald of the Good News must announce three points which were closely related to each other, each point mentioned an aspect of salvation.

            (1) Announcing of peace: Peace is one of the words that was used the most by Isaiah. Peace isn’t the absence of war; but it is God’s gift to men. People shall be reconciled to God, and this reconciliation causes them to have peace.

            (2) Announcing of good new: The Good News come from God who is good. He bestows on them the forgiveness of sins and the salvation.

            (3) Announcing of salvation: The salvation comes from God. Salvation isn’t only meant the liberation of the Israelites from Babylonian exile, but also meant the liberation people from their sins; and bring to people all good things and peace.

            God is the glorious king. He himself shall govern people. The watchmen of the Jerusalem city shall see Him and cry out with joy.

1.2/ All shall see God’s salvation of Jerusalem: The prophet continued to foretell: “Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”

            The event that God set the Israelites free and let them return to Jerusalem, was a miracle which all nations in Near East knew about; it was not by military force, nor by the Israelites’ diplomatic effort, but by Cyrus’ faith, the Persian king, in God. Similarly, when Jesus liberated people from sins by his death on the cross at Jerusalem, the Israel was still under Roman domination.

2/ Reading II: “But in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.”

2.1/ The Son is much higher than prophets: In the mystery of salvation, all what God wanted were revealed through two periods.

            (1) “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets”: Prophets, due to their limitation, couldn’t receive God’s revelation at one time; therefore, God must reveal many times and through many prophets. Every generation faced different problems, so prophets’ revelation were also different; for example, the prophet Amos paid a special attention to social justice; the prophet Isaiah emphasized punishments to purify people; the prophet Hosea concentrated on God’s faithful love and people’s betrayal. Each prophet knew few aspects of God; none knew all of His aspects. Prophets also used different ways to reveal God’s messages, such as oracles (Amos and Isaiah), acts as in a play (Jeremiah).

            (2) “But in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son”: The Son’s revelation is more perfect than the prophets’ revelation, because he knows all that happened with God right from the beginning. The prophets are God’s friends, but Christ is God’s son. He didn’t know the truth partially as prophets, but all truth are hidden in him. Through him, people recognize God. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews didn’t intend to despise prophets; but emphasized the Son’s role. The Jews think they are living between the two ages, present and future; the present age is completely evil and the future shall be God’s glorious time. Between the two ages is the Day of the Lord and the Messiah is the one who initiates God’s age.

2.2/ The Son is higher than angels.

           

1/ The importance of the Son: C.J. Vaughan points out six important things related to Christ.

            (1) The original glory belongs to Christ: “He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature.” God’s glory isn’t to punish people or to debase them to servants; but to serve, to love and to die for them.

            (2) The kingship belongs to Christ: “He appointed him the heir of all things.” All the evagelists had no doubt about Christ’s victory, simply because he is God’s Son. When he finishes everything, he shall give his kingdom back to God.

            (3) The creation also belongs to Christ: Because “through whom also he created the world.” According to the Book of Genesis, God created everything by saying: “Let be existed!” and everything came to being.

            (4) The providence also belongs to Christ: God is “upholding the universe by his word of power.” God not only created the world, but also control them according to an hamornized order. He controls them according to His wisdom, and Christ is God’s wisdom.

            (5) The redemption belongs to Christ: Through his death, he takes away people’s past sins; and by his continuous presence with men, he liberates people from all sins.

            (6) The glorious victory also belongs to Christ: “When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” According to the author, he is sitting on God’s right hand as the advocate to protect people.

           

2/ The Son is higher than angels: The Jewish tradition believe angels are God’s messengers (aggeloi, in Greek, and mal’akim, in Hebrew). Angels have duties to give people God’s messages and to report what people did or ask of God. The direct relation between God and human can’t be happened, because if anyone sees God, he is certainly died (cf. Acts 7:53, Gal 3:19). Therefore, it is easier for the Jews to accept angels’ message than of God Himself. The author wanted to emphasize that Christ is not one of the angels; but much higher than them. He wrote: “having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs.For to what angel did God ever say, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee"? Or again, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"? And again, when he brings the first-born into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him."

 

3/ Gospel: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

           

3.1/ The existence and the role of the Word:

            (1) The Word exists from the beginning: The Fourth Gospel starts with these words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God.” The name “Word” existed in both Hebrew “Dabar” and Greek “Logos.” Both believe the “Word” is God’s wisdom, His intellect. St. John the apostle used Greek’s word to talk about the Messiah of Israel to the Hellenistic world. If the Word is God’s wisdom, he must exist with God from the beginning.

            (2) The Word’s role in creation: “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” If the Word is God’s intellect, then whatever is in the intellect shall be in being; whatever isn’t in the intellect, shall not be existed. Life and light are two main topics in the Gospel according to John, they are closely related. The life isn’t only physical life but extending to eternal life. Only the Word has ability to give people the eternal life.

            (3) The Word is light: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.” Jesus claims: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12). Darkness is opposed to light, and people need to have light to overcome darkness so that they can see; but there are some people who want to hide in darkness, these people want to destroy light because it displays their sins for people to see.

3.2/ Human reaction: “The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” The light of the Word is the truth that he takes from God and reveals to men. Facing the truth, people may have one of two main actions:

            (1) Those who didn’t recognize and receive him: “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.” People denied the Word at least two times. First, St. Paul had the similar idea as John when he accused the Gentiles: Human beings must recognize God through His creation; but they didn’t recognize Him (Rom 1:19-20). God created everything through the Word, people didn’t recognize the Word nor God. Secondly, it was through the mystery of Incarnation. Many saw the Word but refused to accept him.

            (2) The reward for those who welcome him: “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” The most precious reward for those who believed in Christ is to become God’s children; and as an heir, they will share all what God has.

3.3/ The grace and truth that the Word bestows on men: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father...And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace.For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

            (1) Grace:“And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace.” Christ, though in a human body, contains all wisdom, power, love and peace of God (as all of his titles which Isaiah called him in the midnight Mass). Whoever has him, that one can enjoy all what Christ has. He is God’s perfection, and he bestows on people his divine life.

            (2) Truth: “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” The Word reveals for people all God’s truth and plans. When Philip asked Jesus to let him see the Father, Christ said to him: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - History is very important in understanding and in confirming our faith in God. Those who don’t know history shall easily follow vague beliefs. The danger of these beliefs is to lead us far away from our ultimate goal of life.

            - The Jewish history is important for Christian faith, because God chose them to be His people to prepare for the Messiah to come. We need to learn the Jewish history through all Old Testament Books in order to understand God’s plan of salvation for humankind.

            - According to God’s plan of salvation, God used different ways to educate people. In the Old Testament, He used prophets to educate people; in the New Testament, God used His Only Son to be incarnated so that he could educate and clearly reveal His plan of salvation to mankind.

            - All of us need to be educated by the Son himself. We must have him in our life so that he enlightens, educates, blesses, and shows us the way to come to God and to inherit eternal happiness with Him for ever.

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