The Vigil Mass of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) – Year A

Central Idea and Doctrine: Jesus is the Promised Son of David. Practical Application: The Angelus.

Note: This homily outline pertains to readings for the Vigil Mass for Christmas.

For an outline for Midnight Mass, click here.

For a more generic outline based on all the Gospels readings for the four possible Masses for Christmas, click here.

To view Lectionary 13 click here.

Reading 1 Is 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
and her victory like a burning torch.

Nations shall behold your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken,”
or your land “Desolate,”
but you shall be called “My Delight,”
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
soshall your God rejoice in you.

  • For faithful Jews who have not realized that Christ is this “young man,” “Builder,” and “bridegroom,” these beautiful verses are still prophecy.
  • In Christ, however, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is the vindicated, delightful, espoused New Jerusalem. This Zion is fully realized in Christ and each person united to him. This reality is in potential on this earth and actual in heaven.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.

Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.

He shall say of me, “You are my father,
my God, the rock, my savior.”
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.

  • The new and everlasting covenant is with Christ the King, this Son of David, and all those united to him in faith.

Reading 2 Acts 13:16-17, 22-25

When Paul reached Antioch in Pisidia and entered the synagogue,
he stood up, motioned with his hand, and said,
“Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen.
The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors
and exalted the people during their sojourn in the
land of Egypt.
With uplifted arm he led them out of it.
Then he removed Saul and raised up David as king;
of him he testified,
‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.’
From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’”

  • Paul testifies to the Jews of Antioch (his “Fellow Israelites” and those Gentiles attracted to the One True God (the “God-fearing”) that Jesus Christ is the savior promised through David.

Alleluia

Tomorrow the wickedness of the earth will be destroyed:
the Savior of the world will reign over us.

  • The Christmas carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” expresses this truth very well:

Christ, our Savior / Was born on Christmas day / To save us all from Satan’s power / When we were gone astray.

Gospel Mt 1:1-25

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David
is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile,
fourteen generations;
from the Babylonian exile to the Christ,
fourteen generations.

Now 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 conceive 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.

  • In this genealogy of the forebears of St. Joseph, St. Matthew sketches for us “the long path of salvation history” (Homiletic Directory 112) beginning with Abraham, our father in faith (CCC 146).
  • Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham that through him every family on earth would be blessed (Gen 12:3).
  • Through Mary, Joseph’s espoused wife, the promise made to his ancestor Ahaz was fulfilled: Mary is the virgin who conceived and bore a son whose name was Emmanuel or “God with us” (Is 7:14). This name belongs to Christ because he is God-made-man. As the Angelus prayer puts it, echoing the prologue of St. John’s Gospel (Jn 1:14):

R. And the Word became flesh. V. And dwelt among us.

  • In Joseph we see a perfect act of faith to God’s revelation: docility. “He did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.”

Doctrine: Jesus is the Promised Son of David

  • During his public life, “many Jews and even certain Gentiles . . . recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic ‘Son of David,’ promised by God to Israel” (CCC 439).
  • What are these attributes? Biblical scholar Fr. Peter Armenio points out seven.
    • A kingdom: As king of the New Israel, he is lord of all nations.
    • A dynasty. He rules over the New Israel forever.
    • God’s own son. He is God’s own son and our high priest.
    • Everlasting. His kingdom is everlasting and for all peoples.
    • Jerusalem. The heavenly Jerusalem replaces the earthly Jerusalem as the place to which all nations will flock.
    • Temple. The temple is the very person of Christ.
    • Wisdom. The law of this kingdom is a wisdom for all people without distinction of Jew or Gentile, man or woman, slave or free. (Faith and Revelation 219).
  • “Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary” and so he is “the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own.” As St. Ignatius of Antioch put it early in the second century, “You are firmly convinced about our Lord, who is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, Son of God according to the will and power of God, truly born of a virgin” (CCC 496).
  • Jesus made “his messianic entry into the city of ‘his father David’ . . . neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth” riding on a donkey (CCC 559).
  • During his public life, many called out to be healed or forgiven with the words, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (CCC 2616).

Practical Application: The Angelus

  • While the Lord’s Prayer is properly called perfect, another excellent one that can be memorized and said daily is the Angelus.
  • Now commonly recited at noon, the Angelus recalls the Incarnation, the Passion, and the Resurrection of Christ.
  • In it we pray to be brought to the glory of Christ’s Resurrection.
  • We pray for this through the intersession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Homiletic Directory also recommends these Catechism points and themes for the Solemnity of Christmas:

CCC 456-460, 566: “Why did the Word become flesh?”
CCC 461-463, 470-478: the Incarnation
CCC 437, 525-526: the Christmas mystery
CCC 65, 102: God has said everything in his Word
CCC 333: the incarnate Christ worshipped by the angels
CCC 1159-1162, 2131, 2502: the Incarnation and images of Christ

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