Christmas Vigil Mass

Is 9:1-6; Ps 95, Tit. 2:11-14; Lk 2:1-14

Tonight we are gathered to celebrate the birth of Christ who brought the joy of God's saving love to the whole world. And we make our own the jubilant cry of the angels: “Glory to God in the highest, gloria gloria Gloria.


Our first reading tells us that this prophecy about the coming of a saviour child who will rescue his people from oppression is fulfilled in Jesus. The second reading from Titus reminds us that we did nothing to merit the birth of Jesus, rather, God sent his son out of compassion for us. The Gospel tells about the birth of Jesus and how the news of his birth was brought by angels to the shepherds. 

For most primitive peoples throughout history, the Sun was the Supreme God, surveying the world, giving it light and warmth. And in the winter, these primitive peoples would light fires in the hope that they could strengthen the failing power of the sun. By the 3rd century, the Sun god was proclaimed the principal patron of the Roman empire, and December 25th was the date of the winter solstice. On this day, the sun began its journey back to the northern skies. Bonfires are lit to welcome her back after the darkness of the short days.

The Feast of Christmas originated when the cult of the sun was particularly strong in Rome. The pagan festival was baptized by the Church in Rome which used the same date to celebrate the birth of Christ. We do not know exactly and accurately the date of Christ's real birth, but we do not know why the date of Christ's real birth, but we do no know why December 25 was chosen as a date to celebrate the birth. The Yule Logos and the candles symbolise the warmth and light of another son of God. In the darkness of this night, we celebrate the birth of the light of the world. Light has always been associated with goodness, knowledge and hope. Darkness symbolizes evil, ignorance, despair. In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah presents Christ as the great light shining everywhere, making our happiness greater and our joy immense. He is a wonderful counsellor, a mighty God, eternal father, prince of peace whose dominion knows no bounds. In our Christian tradition, we know Christ as the true light which illumines and lightens all things and all peoples. 

The light comes to us not as a bolt from the sky but as a little child. A child born in obscurity, with all the innocence and ripples that the arrival of a baby brings. With every new child, there are ripples, new life, new hope, new adjustments from the parents and family members. Christmas demonstrates that God's language is love. This language is asserted by people of all races, creed, sex and social stratifications.

Christmas celebrates the hope that Christ has generated down the centuries. Christmas reminds us of the poverty and simplicity of Jesus Christ. We are called these very same virtues. In his autobiography, An Only Child, the Irish writer Frank O'Connor tells how one Christmas, Santa Claus brought him a toy engine as a gift. On Christmas afternoon, his mother took him to a local convent to visit. As the engine was the only present he received, he took it with him. While he was in the convent, one of the Nuns brought him to visit the crib in the chapel. As he looked into the crib, he noticed that the little child in the manger had no gift at all. He felt very upset about it. He asked the Nun why the holy child had not got any gift, even toys or anything. The Nun replied that his mother as too poor to afford gifts. That settled it. Frank's mum was poor too, but at every Christmas, she had managed to buy him something even if it is a box of crayons. In a burst of reckless generosity, he took his toy engine, climbed over and put it between the outstretched arm of the child. And he showed him how to wind it as well because a baby will not be clever enough to know about things like that. 

This story shows us the power of Christmas. We show what we are capable of. God's son came in weakness and poverty. Xmas is a feast of the heart. Xmas helps us to decide to begin to live. Ever since the coming of Christ, a fire has been burning on earth...a fire that will never die. Come out of the cold and warm yourself on this fire of God's love and the glow of human fellowship.

– By Fr. Innocent Abonyi, MSP

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