Normally on the First Sunday of Christmas we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, but since this Sunday is New Years Day, we defer to the celebration that is traditional to the 1st of January, which is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
first reading comes from the book of Numbers. The book of Numbers, a
second re-telling of the Exodus story (after Leviticus), takes its name
from the census that was taken of the Hebrew people, one at the
beginning of the Exodus, and one at the end. This passage, from the
early part of the book, is the priestly blessing given to the people of
Israel, and remains a popular blessing to this day. On the occasion of
celebrating the Blessed Virgin Mary, it reminds us that Mary was beloved
of God for being willing to take on the task of bearing and raising his
son. While our Psalm reflects this same blessing, the refrain, “My God
bless us in his mercy,” reminds us of the mercy God has for his people.
second reading is from Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In this passage
Paul is summarizing the Christmas story… how God sent his son to redeem
us. Not only that, but through our relationship with Christ, we also
become sons and daughters of God, our Father, and heirs to the Kingdom.
This was the promise of the savior, a promise that could only be
fulfilled through Mary’s “yes” to God.
Our Gospel from Luke
continues the Nativity narrative from where we left off at Christmas
(from the Mass at Midnight and then at Dawn). As we enter the passage
the shepherd arrive to see the child in the manger, and we are reminded
how Mary kept all these events in her heart. Then, at the appointed
time, according to the Jewish customs of the day, the child is
circumcised and given his name… the name the angels gave him before he
was conceived: Emmanuel, Yehoshua, Jesus, all of which translate to “God
During the Christmas
Season we normally celebrate the Holy Family on the 1st Sunday of
Christmas, the Epiphany on the 2nd Sunday of Christmas, and the Baptism
of the Lord on the 3rd Sunday as the final day of the Christmas season.
But since Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, with New Years Day the
following week, our usual celebrations have been moved to other dates.
This year we celebrate the Holy Family Friday, December 30th. The
Epiphany, a major feast, follows as usual on the 2nd Sunday, January
8th, but then The Baptism of the Lord follows the next day on Monday,
So why all the changes this year? Simply put,
certain Liturgical celebrations take precedence over others. This is
not as unusual as you might think, since a number of Liturgical
celebrations follow particular dates (like Christmas falling on December
25th) whereas other celebrations always fall on a particular Sunday
(like Easter). Believe it or not, there are actually certain rules for
what is celebrated when, and why. Not only that, Bishop’s councils and
even local bishops have some latitude on what and when to celebrate
certain solemnities and to designate which are Holy Days of Obligation.
While this can be confusing for a lot of the people in the
pews, and aggravating for some Liturgy Coordinators, there is some
method to this calendaring madness. But rather than stressing over what
we celebrate when, I think it’s best to follow the advice of Jesus:
Just roll with it. Or perhaps more accurately: Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. (Matthew 6:34)