Our Lady Queen of Heaven
Catholic Church, Harwich, Essex

Nativity of the Lord, The Holy Family and The Epiphany of the Lord 24 and 31 December 7 January

The Nativity of the Lord (Day)  (John 1:1-18)

John’s opening words offer a rich reflection on the mystery of the human birth of the Son of God. The evangelist refers to him as ‘the Word’, for God has finally spoken his fullest word to the human race. God having spoken many times in the past ‘in the last days has spoken to us through his Son’. The Prologue also refers to Jesus as ‘the Light’, for he brings truth and direction in our darkness. The darkness of sin and death cannot overcome the light of Christ. The evangelist speaks of the rejection of the Word by many, but also of the power given to those who do accept him, to all those who believe in him. The feast of Christ’s birth invites us to renew that faith and welcome the Word of light into our lives again.

Do I appreciate that the birth of Christ is God’s loving invitation to change my life?

Do I welcome the Word of life into the dark corners of my life?

We pray that the feast of Christmas will bring many to reconsider the Christian message.

Let us open our hearts to the grace and truth of God.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:22-40)

The Presentation in the Temple has a profound significance. Jesus, the Son of God, obeys the Law of God as he is presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph. His parents are faithful Jews, who abide by the religious laws of the time. This first entry of the Son of God into the house of God speaks of his willingness to do the will of the Father. The old man Simeon is inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak about the child, and about his mother. Simeon points to Jesus as the fulfilment of the hopes and longings of his own people, and of all peoples. He is to be the ‘glory of Israel’, but also a ‘light for the nations’. Simeon tells Mary that the child is to be a ‘sign of contradiction’. We can accept or reject him. Mary, who said her generous ‘Yes’ to God, will be drawn into the suffering of her Son.

What does this gospel tell us about the coming of Jesus?

What does this gospel tell us about the role of parents?

Let us pray for all parents, that they will lead their children in goodness and faith.

Let us ask for understanding of the place of suffering in Christian life.

The Epiphany of the Lord (Matthew 2:1-12)

Jesu is heralded as the Messiah not only for his own people, but for those who come ‘from the east’, for all the peoples of the earth. At the same time this is the Messiah heralded by the prophets. The Scriptures are fulfilled. Herod is the first to threaten his life. The gift of Myrrh alludes to the death he is to suffer. The presentation of gifts from the peoples of the world completes the Christmas scene. The magi represent the nations, but also the age-old quest among the peoples of the earth for true wisdom. This wisdom is found in Christ.

What lies at the heart of the epiphany story?

How is Matthew preparing us for later events in the gospel story?

Let us rejoice with the peoples of the whole world that God’s love has been revealed in the birth of Christ.

We pray for a growing solidarity with those all over the world who suffer.         Fr Adrian Graffy