BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Pray and ask God to speak to you through His Holy Spirit.
“THE PARACLETE, THE HOLY SPIRIT WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL INSTRUCT YOU IN EVERYTHING, AND REMIND YOU OF ALL THAT I TOLD YOU.” (JOHN 14:26)
FIRST DAY Reread last week’s readings.
- What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
- From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your life this week?
SECOND DAY READ NUMBERS 6:22-27 FIRST READING
(“The Lord bless you and keep you!”)
- To whom was the Lord speaking, and to whom did he tell him to speak? Numbers 6:22-23
- Who was Aaron, and what did the Lord say to Moses about him? Exodus 4:14-16
- About what was Moses to speak to them? Numbers 6:23
- What six things were included in the blessing? Numbers 6:24-26
- Who will be blessed? Proverbs 28:20
- What brings wealth? Proverbs 10:22
- Who was blessed by the Lord, what did he do for her, and what was her response? Luke 1:46-55
- What has the Lord given us? Psalm 118:27
- Who did Jesus say he was? John 8:12
- What shall be invoked upon the Israelite’s, and what will the Lord do? Numbers 6:27
Personal – In what way have you blessed a family member or a friend? What do others see shining forth from your face?
THIRD DAY READ GALATIANS 4:4-7 SECOND READING
(“…God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, `Abba, Father!'”)
- Under what was God’s Son born? Galatians 4:4
- What did God’s Son do? Galatians 4:5
- What happens to everyone who believes in Jesus? John 3:16
- Who did the law come through, and what did Jesus bring? John 1:17
- Who are the children of God, and who bears witness that we are? Romans 8:14-16
- What proof do we have that we are his children? Galatians 4:6
- To whom did he give the power to become children of God? John 1:12-13
- Why are the children of God not known to the world? 1 John 3:1
- What are we no longer, and what has he made us? Galatians 4:7
- With whom are the children of God joint heirs? Romans 8:17
Personal – In what way have you cried out to “Abba,” Daddy, this week? What have you inherited from God? What are your parents leaving you as an inheritance, or what are you leaving your children as an inheritance?
FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 2:16-21 GOSPEL
(“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”)
- When the shepherds went off in haste, who did they find? Luke 2:16
- Why did Mary lay her firstborn Son in a manger? Luke 2:7
- What did the shepherds do when they saw the child? Luke 2:17
- What was the reaction of those who were told the message? Luke 2:18
- What amazed or astonished the people listening to Jesus? Matthew 7:28-29
Personal – What have you seen and made known to others since you have been studying God’s Word?
- What did Mary do? Luke 2:19
- What did Mary do when Jesus became lost and then told her he was about his Father’s business? Luke 2:49-51
Personal – What have you personally pondered in your heart that God revealed to you, and how have you followed Mary’s example?
- How did the shepherds return? Luke 2:20
- What was the reaction of the paralytic and the people upon the healing? Luke 5:25-26
- What happened on the eighth day, and to whom had the name been given? Luke 2:21, Luke 1:31
- What has his name done for us? Acts 4:12
- To what is the name Jesus inherited far superior? Hebrews 1:3-4
Personal – What name has been given to you, and of what is it a reflection?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 67:2-6, 8
(“…may he let his face shine upon us.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 67:2-6, 8.
What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?
How can you apply this to your life?
SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY
When Mary said, “Generation after generation shall call me blessed of God,” she was recognizing and accepting the gift God had given her (Luke 1:48). If Mary had denied her incredible position, she would have been throwing God’s blessing back at him.
In today’s reading we are being shown that a blessing was one way of asking God’s divine favor to rest upon others. All of God’s blessings had their fulfillment in the coming of Christ on earth. Mary received the fullness of these promises and blessings when she said, “Be it done unto me according to thy Word.” At that very moment she conceived Jesus Christ in her womb. As proof of this blessing we have the angel Gabriel’s words as he salutes her as “full of grace.” She has the full friendship of God, and no man or woman had ever received the fullness of God’s blessing until then.
A blessing conveys that God will (1) bless and protect, (2) be pleased because of us, (3) be gracious, merciful, and compassionate to us, (4) show favor to us, and (5) give us peace. When we ask God to bless us and others, we are asking him to do these five things. We will have the full friendship of God as we ask him to bless others as well as ourselves.
Today, on this special feast, let us thank God for all the blessings that he has given Mary, the Mother of God. We have all profited through her blessings; and the title, Mother of God, that the church confirmed in her regard at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, demonstrates all this.
In today’s reading Paul uses the example of slavery to show that before Christ came and died for our sins, people were in bondage to the law. By becoming enslaved to the law, people thought they could be saved. At just the right time, God sent Jesus to earth to die for our sins, and we who were once slaves are now God’s very own children with an intimate relationship with him. For centuries the Jews were wondering when their Messiah would come, but God’s timing was perfect.
We may sometimes wonder if God will ever respond to our prayers, but we must never stop trusting or give up hope. At the right time, he will respond to us. Jesus was born of a woman and was subject to God’s law and fulfilled it. His death brought freedom for us who were enslaved to sin so we could be adopted into God’s family. Under the Roman law, an adopted child was guaranteed all legal rights to his father’s property. As adopted children of God, we share with Jesus all rights to God’s resources.
As God’s heirs, we can claim what he has provided for us; which is our full identity as his children. The Old Testament was based on the law, but was only a shadow of things to come. Christianity is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Christianity is the reality, and the reality is God has become man, and man is now free and has been adopted into God’s family as rightful heirs to the kingdom.
What a tremendous sign of comfort and hope it is when we read that the first visitors to lay eyes on the long-awaited Messiah were simple, hard-working, uneducated, common folks called shepherds. Even in birth Jesus has shown us the ultimate in humility, and his choice of those who were part of his birth experience were of humble origins themselves.
Can you imagine the thoughts that flowed through Mary’s head as she observed the shepherds coming to pay homage to her Son? She certainly was aware of the power and beauty of the angels singing praises of glory to God to their new born king. The Jewish custom was when a new child was born the local musicians would come by and sing some congratulatory songs. Mary had, not earthly musicians to sing to her son, but she had a choir of angels to fill the air with heavenly sounds.
On this very special day, we can honor Mary in her blessed role as Mother of God. God himself honored her by making her the mother of his Son. Jesus, in one of his last acts on this earth before dying on the cross, made his mother our mother. It was through no merit of her own that she earned this dignity. This honor was given as a sheer gift of God. When we honor her, we are in fact thanking God for his gift of her to us.
The first reading explains that a blessing is God giving someone his protection and direction. The second reading tells how the Old Testament was a time of preparation, and the New Testament was a time of the reality of God entering into human history as a human being named Jesus. The Gospel reveals Jesus beginning his life on earth humbly, and in humility he went to his death on a cross for us.
This week, let the humility of the shepherds be your model of conduct during the Christmas holidays. Bring to your family, friends, and co-workers, the gift of listening, the gift of gentleness, and the gift of humility. Mary was a role model for the whole world, for both male and female.