December 27-January 2: Feasts and Readings

DECEMBER 27 Mon Saint John, Apostle Feast 1 Jn 1:1-4/Jn 20:1a, 2-8

28 Tue The Holy Innocents, Martyrs Feast 1 Jn 1:5—2:2/Mt 2:13-18 

29 Wed Fifth Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord

[Saint Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr] 1 Jn 2:3-11/Lk 2:22-35 

30 Thu Sixth Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord

1 Jn 2:12-17/Lk 2:36-40 

31 Fri Seventh Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord

[Saint Sylvester I, Pope] 1 Jn 2:18-21/Jn 1:1-1813

JANUARY 1 2022

Sat SOLEMNITY OF MARY, THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD

Solemnity  Nm 6:22-27/Gal 4:4-7/Lk 2:16-21 

2 SUN USA: THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD Solemnity

Is 60:1-6/Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6/Mt 2:1-12 

Christmas is over today for many people. They’re ready to take the tree down and put the decorations away. But the mystery of Christmas is too big for a one day celebration; that’s why the church prepares for this celebration through the four weeks of Advent and continues through the days of the Christmas season till the Feast of the Epiphany. 

Christmas Day may be over, but our reflection on the Christmas mystery is not over. This mystery raises questions and has consequences, which the feasts that follow Christmas Day explore. From earliest times both eastern and western churches have celebrated the feast of Stephen, an early disciple of Jesus and the first to die giving witness to him (Acts 6,8 ff).

When Jesus was born “all who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.” (Luke 2,18) But Stephen would be stoned to death when he told about the One who was sent. The message, not always heard, must still be told. “The love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven,” St. Fulgentius says of the martyr Stephen. His feast is  December 26.

December 27th is the feast of St. John, the apostle. This is another feast celebrated by  the churches of the east and west from earliest times. It explores the great question: Who is this Child born of Mary? He is true God and true man. “the Word made flesh, the Word of God who made all things, dwells among us.”

December 28th is the feast of the Holy Innocents; little children from Bethlehem put to death by Herod the Great so no rivals would challenge his power and throne. (Matthew 2, 13-18) When Jesus was born “all who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.” (Luke 2,18) Yet Herod the Great heard the message and tried to end it. The birth of Jesus does not bring an end to evil in the world. The Child is born “for to die for poor orn’ry creatures like you and like I.” 

Like the shepherds who watched in the darkness we need to keep our eyes on true  light:  “the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Like Mary, we need to keep reflecting on this mystery in our heart to appreciate what it means for the world and for us. On January 1, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, who kept all these things in her heart. So many of the Christmas mysteries come to us through her memories.

On Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. Jesus is revealed to the all nations.

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