In principio erat Verbum,
et Verbum erat apud Deum,
et Deus erat Verbum.
Hoc erat in principio apud Deum.
These words were heard at the conclusion of every Mass celebrated for several hundred years before the late 1960’s.
Many of you would have recognised these beginning verses of the Gospel of John, and while the gospel readings for the Masses of Christmas Vigil, Midnight and Dawn focus on the birth of Jesus and the visit of the shepherds, The Mass of Christmas Day features this powerful and beautiful reading:
In the beginning was the Word
the Word was with God
and the Word was God…
…In him was life
life that was the light of all people
and light shines in darkness,
and darkness could not overpower it…
…to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God…
…The Word became flesh
and lived among us…
I’m often deeply moved as I read this gospel aloud. Without a doubt it is my favourite Christmas reading.
Everything is there.
To paraphrase the parts that move me most:
+ God has always lived, from all time and before anything existed there was God who is therefore the initiator of all, the creator of all, and the one who has power over all and through all.
+Jesus, whose birth we celebrate today, is the Word of God – no longer simply printed words on a bible page but a living person, a communicator, God in action, speaking human language, walking earthy paths, working miracles among us not only 2000 years ago but here and now today.
+Jesus continues to bring light to every human darkness.
+All we need to do is to say yes. With our “yes” we become part of the lively and loved family of God.
+Yes, the Word became flesh and dwells among us and because of this, even my dark days and nights, are rich with hope and light.
Here is a grace you might like to use at your Christmas meal this family.
A Grace before Christmas Dinner
One of the more senior people
at the dinner begins saying:
Before we share this Christmas meal together,
Let us take a moment of silent prayer
to give God thanks
for all the blessings we have received this year
and the burdens we bear, shared and personal.
A moment of silent reflection follows
Then the leader continues
Let us remember those
we have shared Christmas with in past years,
those who have died,
and also those who are not able to be with us today
because of distance and illness and Covid restrictions.
Let us now share aloud
the names of those we especially wish to remember.
Those at table take a moment
to share the names of those
they wish to remember.
When the names have been shared
a candle is lit in the centre of the table
(perhaps by one of the children).
Then the leader prays
May the light of this candle
lead us to Christ
who overcomes every darkness.
And for what we receive in this meal,
the food, drink, and family and friendship,
let us be deeply grateful.