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Liturgy Alive

December 31, 2020

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Thursday December 31

 7th Day in the Octave of Christmas

 LAST DAY OF THE YEAR

 

Introduction

Today the liturgy fits in very well with the celebration of New Year’s Eve: it both looks forward to the end of time (first reading) and back to the beginning: to the Word that created all and came among people as the living Word, Jesus, to make a new beginning with us. And that’s life: the end of what is past, a new beginning to be made ever anew. It was a mixture of joys shared together and miseries that were lighter when they too were borne together. And a time for which, after all, we are grateful to one another and to God. A turning point is also a time of hope. The past is gone; we look forward. We say goodbye and we welcome what is coming with hope, for the Lord is with us; we resume our journey together as God’s pilgrim people.

 

Opening Prayer

Loving Father,
You gave us your Son Jesus Christ
and let him share our poverty.
He brought us grace upon grace,
for all that comes from you is a free gift.
Accept our thanks for the moments
when we accepted your gifts
and shared them with one another.
Accept our thanks for the times
we listened attentively to your Son’s words
and put them into practice.
Help us go forward with hope and joy
with joy and mutual encouragement.
with the companion in life you have given us,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Reading 1 1 Jn 2:18-21

The Jews then said to Him,

“What sign do You show us as your authority

for doing these things?”

Jesus answered them,

“Destroy this [b]temple,

and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years

to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”

But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

 

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1-2, 11-12, 13

  1. (11a) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
    Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
    give to the LORD glory and praise;
    give to the LORD the glory due his name!
    R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
    Bring gifts, and enter his courts;
    worship the LORD in holy attire.
    Tremble before him, all the earth.
    R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
    Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
    He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
    he governs the peoples with equity.
    R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

 

Alleluia

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    A holy day has dawned upon us.
    Come, you nations, and adore the Lord.
    Today a great light has come upon the earth.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Gospel Jn 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came into being through Him,

and apart from Him nothing came into being

that has come into being.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

The Light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness did not [b]comprehend it.

There [c]came a man sent from God,

whose name was John.

He came [e]as a witness,

to testify about the Light,

so that all might believe through him.

He was not the Light,

but he came to testify about the Light.

There was the true Light which,

coming into the world, enlightens every man.

He was in the world,

and the world was made through Him,

and the world did not know Him.

He came to His own,

and those who were His own did not receive Him.

But as many as received Him,

to them He gave the right to become children of God,

even to those who believe in His name,

who were born, not of blood

nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh,

and dwelt among us,

and we saw His glory,

glory as of the only begotten from the Father,

full of grace and truth.

John testified about Him and cried out, saying,

“This was He of whom I said,

‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I,

for He existed before me.’”

For of His fullness we have all received,

and [o]grace upon grace.

For the Law was given through Moses;

grace and truth [p]were realized through Jesus Christ.

No one has seen God at any time;

the only begotten God

who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him

 

Commentary

The prologue to John’s Gospel, read at today’s Mass, offers four points for our reflection. First, it highlights the eternity of Jesus Christ. In fact, he is actually called God, an unusual designa­tion in the New Testament since “God” was initially seen as applying only to Yahweh. In his eternal Godhead, Jesus is present

with the Father in the whole process of creation. In fact, as God’s wisdom, he is the blueprint that guides the whole creative process.

Second, Jesus enters the world as the life giver; he confers the Spirit, described variously in John’s Gospel as light, life, or water. It is the Spirit that lifts humans to a whole new plateau of existence; it is life in God. If the law given to Moses was a gift, the life of the Spirit is called simply “grace and truth.”

Third, Jesus came in the flesh. Contrary to some of the thinking within the early Johannine community, he was not sim­ply an apparition or vision. To those who looked with disdain on anything human or material (perhaps those identified with the antichrists of today’s episodes), there was only one response. “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). He was man in the full sense of the term.

Finally, John the Baptist was not the light, as some may have suggested. He had a clearly subordinate role as the forerunner, the one who prepared the way of the Lord. There is some New Testament evidence for a strong advocacy of John’s baptism, per­haps because Christ himself had received it. The Gospel of John, however, is clearly interested in setting the record straight.

While John is rich in its very positive approach, it has a very distinctive apologetic. It wants to uphold the eternity of Christ while never losing sight of his humanity. He is the savior and life giver in a way that far outdistances anyone from Moses to John the Baptist. When we consider all that the term “Jesus Christ” connotes, it is not surprising that there were some failures in articulating the Lord and his mission adequately in the early years of the church’s life. But error often leads to gain—in this case, a clearer expression of belief. The prologue to John’s Gospel, even with its soaring beauty, serves a very practical purpose.

 

Points to Ponder

Jesus the eternal Word

Jesus as true man

The subordination of the Baptist

The gift of Spirit life

 

Intercessions

In gratitude to our generous Father for all his blessings and graces received in the past year, we pray:

–   For all those with whom we are united in one common friendship and concern, that he may keep us all in his love, we pray:

–   For all whom we have disappointed in the past, for those whom we have hurt or neglected, and for those who have pained and irritated us, we pray:

–   For those who have lost someone dear to them, that their hope in Christ may give them strength; for those who have died this year, that they may live in the Lord’s peace, we pray:

–   And for all of us here, that we may be grateful for life, for all the joys we have experienced, and for one another, we pray:

God, let your Son speak his word among us and live among us, now and for ever.

 

Prayer over the Gifts

Loving Father,
it is easy for us here to break this bread
and to share it with one another,
to drink this cup and offer it to one another.
As we offer you these gifts
we pray you for strength,
for it is difficult for us the whole year long,
to keep sharing ourselves with one another
to offer our hand to give and receive help
and to forget ourselves for the sake of others.
Let us be always each other’s food and drink
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Prayer after Communion

God our Father,
in this celebration we have looked back
to the past, to what is done and gone.
With Jesus in our midst
we look now forward to the future.
Let neither the past nor the present, nor the future,
neither joys nor sorrows
ever separate us from him.
Let you Son be the center of our lives
and the bond that binds us to you
and to one another,
in faith, hope and lasting love.
Go with us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Blessing

Let us go in the peace of the Lord. May the Lord be with you wherever you go. May he bless your coming and your going, your work and your care, your joys and your suffering. As he blessed you the past year, may he bless you even more in the new year: The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 

Details

Date:
December 31, 2020