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Sunday:       Christmas Mass during the night (Midnight)
Date:         December 25, 2011
Year:         B
The readings: [Is. 9:2-4, 6-7; Tit. 2:11-14; Lk. 2:1-16]
The message:  Rejoice for our Saviour is born to the world.
Total words:  1153

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** The readings follow the sermon.

Good evening to everyone! Surely, all of you must share in my great joy of being a participant in this beautiful gathering of families, relatives, friends, neighbours and even unannounced visitors. Tonight, many have come to commemorate the incarnation of God on earth! Our seniors, those who are single and those who are married, our teenagers, the little children, all are here to celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus, the Saviour of the world.

Over two thousands years ago, our Heavenly Father promised to His people that a great Light would be seen. For those who were walking in the darkness, a Light would shine on them. As people rejoice when winning a victory over their enemies by helping themselves to all their belongings, God promised that throughout the world, the people would rejoice during this great moment of the coming of the Saviour.

During today's First Reading from the Book of Isaiah, [Is. 9:2-4, 6-7] this great joy was compared to harnessed farm animals, such being a symbol of enslavement. As the weight of the bar was removed from the shoulders of the farm animals, a great weight was taken off the shoulder of the people. The Book of Isaiah also compared this great joy to the joy that was experienced by God's chosen people when they defeated the Mediannites [Judges 7:16-25] When the weight was taken off the shoulder of the people, it was transferred upon the shoulders of the promised Messiah. For it is He who came to bear the sins of the world.

The next verse from the same reading described the characteristics of the promised Messiah: "He is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." From this Biblical passage, we perceive the mystery of the Holy Trinity, that "the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily within Jesus" [Col 1:19, 2:9]

The Messiah is the Mighty God. He is the One God in Who dwells Three Divine Presences in the Holy Trinity. He is the "I am" of the Old Testament and the New Testament. [Gen. 17:4; Exo. 3:14; Jn. 8:58; 18:5] He is the Everlasting Father. He is the Wonderful Counsellor, the promised Advocate who teaches us all things and bring all things back to our minds all what Jesus has said to us through the Sacred Scriptures. [Jn. 14:16, 26] He is the Prince of Peace, Jesus Himself, being our "Prince and Saviour" [Acts 5:31, 7:35; Latin Vulgate]

Sent by the Heavenly Father to establish the spiritual Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven, the authority of Jesus was pre- ordained to continuously grow. Such is manifested in the progressive growth of the Church. From generation to generation, as new believers convert to the Catholic Church by receiving the Sacrament of Baptism through faith in Christ, by the grace of the Heavenly Father and the power of the Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Name of Jesus, they become new members of the Body of Christ that continues to grow and grow.

Through Jesus, the spiritual Kingdom of God on earth and in Heaven is established and upheld with justice and righteousness now and forever.

During today's Second Reading from the Letter to Titus, [Tit. 2:11-4] we heard that these things are now happening. The grace of God has appeared on earth. Baby Jesus was chosen by God the Father to bring us our salvation. Our response to the grace of God, the gift of Jesus, we are to renounce impiety and worldly passions. We are called to live lives of self-control, to be upright and godly in our thoughts, our words and our actions, while waiting for the blessed hope and manifestation of the glory of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ when He shall return at the end of time.

We should all be zealous to perform good deeds for Jesus Who gave Himself for us so that we might be saved from all our sins. Through Jesus, we were purified to become a new Christian nation that is called the people of Jesus.

Today's reading from the Gospel of Luke [Lk. 2:1-16] confirms that in the days of Emperor Augustus, Baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem to the Virgin Mary who was engaged to Joseph. Because there was no room in the inn, like the poor people of His days, Baby Jesus was born in a manger. In that environment, there was no hospital services available. There were no doctor and nurses. There were no white bed sheets. And there was no gathering of the biological family.

Not too far away, some shepherds were living in the fields, watching over their flock at night to keep the wolves away. At that moment, a shining angel of God stood before them. The sudden brilliance scared the shepherds. After telling the shepherds not to be afraid, the angel told them that he was bringing them good news of great joy for all the people, the people of those days and the people of today. Jesus, our Saviour, the promised Messiah, was born. He could be found wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger not too far away.

Then suddenly, there was a multitude of heavenly hosts present who were praising God and singing, "Glory to God in the highest Heaven, and on earth peace among those whom He favoured!" You can imagine the joy of the shepherds from the presence of such a multitude. Curious to learn more, after the angels left, the shepherds went to Bethlehem to find Baby Jesus that the Lord God had announced to them. Hurrying to Bethlehem, they found Mary and Joseph standing by Baby Jesus who was lying in the manger.

Tonight, we share in the joy of the shepherds. We all hurried here to Church to be with our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ, these consisting of family members, friends, strangers, all who are present in the hope of celebrating the coming of Baby Jesus on earth. As the angels sang beautiful songs, praising God, we also unite our voices to sing and praise God for His gift of Jesus to each and everyone of us.

At the same time, although invisible, our faith tells us that Jesus is truly here present with us. So are the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph. So are all the saints of the Church who dwell in the spiritual Kingdom of God. And, so is the multitude of heavenly hosts that sang on the night that Baby Jesus was born. All of them, alongside with us, are celebrating the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day.

As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us thank God for this beautiful surrounding that warms our hearts and elevates our spirits for the glory of Jesus.

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shone. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.

For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this." [Is. 9:2-4. 6-7]

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Second Reading...

"The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds." [Tit. 2:11-4]

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Gospel Reading...

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an Angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the Angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!'

When the Angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.' So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger." [Lk. 2:1-16]

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