How Jesus Christ came to be bornMatthew 1:18
Begin with a few moments of quiet.
The intention is to open yourself to the presence of God within you and among those gathered. The desire to be open to God is itself the desire of God to break through into your awareness of the presence of God within.
Invite all present to sit comfortably.
Bringing our attention to our breath…….deepening it for a moment…… we are going to do so for three full breaths, drawing the breath all the way in …. feeling it filling your body……focusing on that moment where it stops drawing in and before the body begins exhaling again….. the transition point between the end of one moment and the beginning of another……allowing it all the way out and again focusing on the transition point….the end of one moment and the beginning of another…….
Now return to breathing normally and make the sign of the cross:
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Invite each person present to take a few moments to reflect on:
Where in the past week did I encounter God in my life?
Where in the past week did I inhibit God in my life?
Allow time in quiet for this and then, after a few moments, invite those present to share on this, if they are comfortable to do so. If you like to have some quiet music playing during this click below.
An introduction to the Gospel
Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus differs in several ways from the version of St.Luke which places a great stress on the role of Mary and her ‘yes’ to God. For Matthew the emphasis will be on Jesus as the one who fulfils the scriptures of the Jewish people. This is important for him because his gospel was written for Jews who had become followers of Jesus but who were coming under pressure to abandon their faith.Sean Goan – Let the Reader Understand
One of the ways Matthew will try to persuade them is to show how Jesus is indeed the one spoken about in the prophecies. He will also use Old Testament figures and images to connect the story of Jesus with the story of the people of Israel. Hence the importance to Joseph who is like Joseph of the book of Genesis who was also guided by dreams and was faithful to God.
The unique circumstances of the birth of Jesus are shown through the prophecy from Isaiah. In the person of Jesus, God is truly with us and, as Matthew says at the end of his gospel, will stay with us until the end of time.
Read the Gospel
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.
Joseph is sometimes depicted in statue form as ‘Sleeping Joseph’. He shows us how God reveals God’s plan to us in times of silence and rest. Even when we are doing the right things and living a virtuous life, God can surprise us, picking apart the lines we draw between people. We are constantly being nudged out of our comfort zone, towards others, to become ever more compassionate, loving and open to God’s dream for us.
Only in the sacredness of inward silence does the soul truly meet the secret, hiding God. The strength of resolve, which afterward shapes life, and mixes itself with action, is the fruit of the sacred, solitary moments. There is a divine depth in silence. We meet God alone. (FW Robertson)
Taken from: TRÍONA DOHERTY & JANE MELLETT —Go Deeper
Close the time of prayer with the Our Father
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Take a moment now to bring to mind those you want to share peace with, family, friends, those where your relationship is broken.
Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope
and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
Fr. Kieran O’Mahony offers a scriptural analysis on the Readings in Written format or on Video
The Spirit of God is seeking to create a newness in our lives, that calls us to a fresh wholeness that requires much letting go of what we have known, and co-creating with God an undreamt-of future for our church, for our world and for ourselves. This does not mean forgetting the past, which has brought us to the present.
The Gospel life is about a new future in God. In an incarnational, evolutionary universe nothing is complete and God is still creating. We are a central part of this creation which is happening in our midst.