December 26-January 1: Feasts and Readings

DECEMBER 26 Mon St Stephen, 1st Martyr Feast Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59/Mt 10:17-22 

27 Tue St John, Apostle and Evangelist Feast 1 Jn 1:1-4/Jn 20:1a, 2-8 

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

29 Thu Fifth Day within the Octave of the Nativity

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

30 Fri  Holy Family Feast Sir 3:2-6, 12-14 or Col 3:12-21 or 3:12-17/Mt 2:13-15, 19-23 

31 Sat Seventh Day within the Octave of the Nativity  [Saint Sylvester I, Pope]

1 Jn 2:18-21/Jn 1:1-18 

JANUARY 2023 1 SUN SOLEMNITY OF MARY, THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD

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

Christmas is over today for many people, who quickly take the tree down and put the decorations away. But the mystery of Christmas is too big for a one day celebration, so the church celebrates it 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 continues, a mystery that raises great questions and has great consequences, which the feasts following Christmas Day explore.

Instead of news of great joy proclaimed to the shepherds keeping watch on the dark hill, we hear in the days following Christmas the cries of Innocents (December 28) put to death by Herod the Great so no rivals challenge his power and throne. Like the slaughter of the innocents in Ukraine and Africa today, evil persisted in lifetime of Jesus and persists in our day. 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.” 

His coming brings power to conquer evil in all the forms it takes. From earliest times the church celebrates the feast of Stephen,(December 26), the first of his disciples to die bearing witness to him (Acts 6,8 ff). His witness brought new life to the church and the world. “The love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven,” St. Fulgentius says of the martyr Stephen. We have the power to conquer evil.

December 27th is the feast of St. John, the apostle, another feast celebrated by  the church from earliest times. “Who is this Child born of Mary?” this feast asks. He is true God and true man. “The Word made flesh, the Word of God who made all things, dwells among us.” Our faith ultimately rests on this belief.

Like the shepherds keeping watch in the dark we need to keep our eyes on the true  light:  “the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” The infant in the arms of Mary.

Like Mary, we need to keep reflecting on this mystery in our hearts to appreciate its meaning for us and our world. On January 1, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, who kept all these things in her heart. We ask her to share with us her memories.

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