Celebrant: With joy in our hearts, we turn to our heavenly Father with our prayers and petitions.
That the Church may be blessed with an ever more effective voice in the world to herald the joy of the Gospel to all people, we pray to the Lord…
That all Church leaders through their ministry of service may help prepare the way for the coming of the Lord, we pray to the Lord…
That world and local leaders may seek the values of heaven rather than the values of the world, we pray to the Lord...
That the Lord who comes to bring liberty and justice may inspire us to secure protection for our unborn brothers and sisters, we pray to the Lord...
That each of us may proclaim the greatness of God through our actions of love and kindness to others, we pray to the Lord…
For all who have died, that they may rest in the peace of the Messiah, let us pay to the Lord…
hear us as we pray and prepare
our hearts for the celebration of your Son’s birth.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Christmas: A Gift of Life
“The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus' message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as "good news" to the people of every age and culture. At the dawn of salvation, it is the Birth of a Child which is proclaimed as joyful news: "I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:10-11). The source of this "great joy" is the Birth of the Saviour; but Christmas also reveals the full meaning of every human birth, and the joy which accompanies the Birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfilment of joy at every child born into the world (cf. Jn 16:21)” (Pope John Paul II, “The Gospel of Life,” n.1).
Is 61:1-2a, 10-11
1 Thes 5:16-24
Jn 1:6-8, 19-28
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The command to “rejoice always” may seem like a demanding requirement, given the fact that things do not always go our way, because of circumstances beyond our control. Yet this rejoicing is always possible, because it is based on the salvation which Christ has come to bring. “I rejoice heartily in the Lord,” Isaiah writes, “for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.”
This “justice,” manifested when God rescues his people (for example, from slavery in Egypt) has come to us in the Divine Child whose birth we are preparing to celebrate. He wrapped us in a mantle of justice when, by his death and resurrection, he rescued us from the power of death. “To proclaim liberty to captives” is his mission, as the First Reading indicates in a passage that would later be quoted by Christ himself in reference to his own ministry. The Christmas song “O Holy Night” reflects this theme when it says, “Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in his name all oppression shall cease.”
We who are rescued must rescue the poor and weak among us, including the poorest and weakest, the unborn children. To celebrate the God who comes to free the oppressed, and has freed us, means to commit ourselves to ending oppression in our culture.