Christmas (Vigil Mass)
December 24, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.




“The Introit for today is from Exodus xvi, and repeats the words of Moses when, in order to pacify the murmuring people, he promised them from God that manna should be rained down on them out of heaven on the morrow. This manna typified the Incarnate Word who is the true food of souls. He comes like rain out of heaven because his virginal conception is not according to the common laws of Nature, but is purely the work of the Holy Ghost” (Schuster).






O God, who gladden us year by year
as we wait in hope for our redemption,
grant that, just as we joyfully welcome
your Only Begotten Son as our Redeemer,
we may also merit to face him confidently
when he comes again as our Judge.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Is 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
and her victory like a burning torch.

Nations shall behold your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken,”
or your land “Desolate,”
but you shall be called “My Delight,”
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.

Responsorial Psalm 89:4-5,16-17.29

R/. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.

Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.

He shall say of me, “You are my father,
my God, the rock, my savior.”
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.



Today you will know that the Lord is coming to save us; and tomorrow you will see his glory. Vs. O Shepherd of Israel, hear us; you who lead Joseph like a flock, and who are enthroned upon the Cherubim; we beseech you to appear before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.

“The Gradual adds to the verse from Exodus, already recited for the Introit, the Messianic Psalm lxxix which we find repeated again and again throughout this Advent season. The faithful soul by its prayers hastens the blessed hour of the parousia when the ancient shepherd of Israel, who led the gentle Joseph like a sheep, will appear to his people and will enlighten them.”

Second Reading Acts 13:16-17,22-25

When Paul reached Antioch in Pisidia and entered the synagogue,
he stood up, motioned with his hand, and said,
“Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen.
The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors
and exalted the people during their sojourn in the
land of Egypt.
With uplifted arm he led them out of it.
Then he removed Saul and raised up David as king;
of him he testified,
‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.’
From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’”

Gospel Acclamation




Alleluia, alleluia. Vs. Tomorrow the sin of the land will be destroyed, and the Saviour of the world will establish over us his kingdom. Alleluia.

“The birth of the Saviour initiates, indeed, the expiation of sin and the redemption of the human race. The manger, the poor swaddling-clothes, the hay, the cave, the warm breath of the two animals—all these condemn by anticipation our pride, sensuality and spirit of independence, and teach us to treasure the poverty of the Christ-Child....”

Gospel Mt 1:1-25

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David
is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile,
fourteen generations;
from the Babylonian exile to the Christ,
fourteen generations.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.

Catena Nova

The Lord came visibly to his own domain, and was sustained by his own creation which he himself sustains in being....Christ recapitulated all things in himself, including our war against the enemy. He challenged and defeated him who in the beginning had taken us captive in Adam, and he crushed his head in accordance with God’s words to the serpent in Genesis: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring, he shall lie in wait for your head, and you shall lie in wait for his heel. From that time on, he who was to be born of a virgin in the likeness of Adam was foretold as the one who would lie in wait for the serpent’s head. This is the descendant to whom Paul refers when he says in his letter to the Galatians: The law of works was in force until the coming of the descendant to whom the promise had been made. Paul is still more explicit when he says in the same letter: When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman. The enemy would not have been defeated fairly if his vanquisher had not been a man born of a woman, because it was through a woman that he gained mastery over the human race in the beginning, and set himself up as our adversary. That is why the Lord proclaims himself the Son of Man, who recapitulates in himself that first man from whom the race born of woman was formed: as by a man’s defeat our race fell into the bondage of death, so also by a man’s victory we were to rise again to life. (St. Irenaeus of Lyons)

When Boaz, the great-grandfather of David, saw Ruth’s behaviour, her devotion to her mother-in-law, her loyalty to her dead husband, and her fear of God, he chose her for his wife in accordance with the law of Moses which bade him raise up offspring for his next of kin. That this marriage was symbolic is shown by the blessing given by the elders: May the Lord make this woman who is about to come into your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May she make you powerful in Ephrathah and renowned in Bethlehem. And may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman. And Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife, and she bore Obed, the father of Jesse and grandfather of David. Matthew did well, then, when about to summon all nations to the Church through the Gospel, to recall that the Lord who brings about this gathering of the nations was himself, in his human body, of alien origin. Matthew thus made known that it was from this lineage that he would come who was to summon the nations – he whom we desire to follow, we of alien origin who were gathered together when we left our native land and said to whoever called us to worship the Lord, Paul, for example, or any bishop: Your people shall be my people, your God my God. So did Ruth, like Leah and Rachel, forget her own people and her father’s house and, freeing herself from the fetters of the law, she entered the Church. What good reason there was for inserting Ruth’s name in the lineage of the Lord is shown by the revelation of a still more profound mystery, for in the words: May the Lord give you power in Ephrathah and make your name renowned in Bethlehem it is prophesied that Christ should be her descendant. For what is this power if not that by which the Christ gathered together all the nations of the world? Whence is this renown if not in the fact that Bethlehem became the Lord’s hometown when he was born as a man. As the prophecy proclaims: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the towns of Judah, for from you shall come the prince who will rule my people Israel. (St. Ambrose of Milan)

Observe a most admirable order in the things Matthew has mentioned. For he did not proceed directly to the birth [of Christ], but puts us in mind first, how many generations he was from Abraham, how many from David, and from the captivity of Babylon; and thus he sets the careful hearer upon considering the times, to show that this is the Christ who was preached by the prophets. For when you have numbered the generations, and have learned by the time that this is He, you will readily receive likewise the miracle which took place in His birth. Thus, being about to tell of a certain great thing, His birth of a virgin, he first shadows over the statement, until he has numbered the generations, by speaking of "an husband of Mary;" or rather he even puts in short space the narration of the birth itself, and then proceeds to number also the years, reminding the hearer, that this is He, of whom the patriarch Jacob had said, He should then at length come, when the Jewish rulers had come to an end; of whom the prophet Daniel had proclaimed beforehand, that He should come after those many weeks. And if any one, counting the years spoken of to Daniel by the angel in a number of weeks, would trace down the time from the building of the city to His birth, by reckoning he will perceive the one to agree with the other. (St. John Chrysostom)

The Word took to himself descent from Abraham, as the Apostle says, and therefore it was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers, and take a body similar to ours. That is why Mary is really part of his plan, so that he may take this body from her and offer it up for us as something that is his own. Accordingly, Scripture mentions his birth, and says: She wrapped up in swaddling clothes; the breasts that suckled him were called blessed; sacrifice was offered because he was the first-born. Gabriel announced the good news to Mary with all clarity: he did not say simply: ‘what is born in you’, in case it might be thought that the body had been introduced into her from outside; he said: what is born of you, sothat it would be accepted that what she gave birth to, came from her in the natural way. The Word took this course of action so that he could take on himself what was ours, offer it in sacrifice, and do away with it altogether, and then clothe us in what was his, as he inspired the Apostle to say: This perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. This was no mere fiction, as some have thought. For our Saviour really did become man, and this brought about the salvation of the whole man. Our salvation is no illusion, nor is it salvation of the body only: the salvation of the whole man, body and soul, was really brought about in the Word himself. What was born of Mary, according to Scripture, was by nature human; the Lord’s body was a real one - real, because it was the same as ours. This was so because Mary was our sister, since we are all descended from Adam. This is the meaning of John’s words: The Word became flesh, as can be seen from a similar passage in Paul: Christ became a curse for us. The human body has been greatly enhanced through the fellowship and the union of the Word with it. From being mortal, it has become immortal; though physical, it has become spiritual; though made from the earth, it has passed through the gates of heaven. Though the Word took a body from Mary, the Trinity remains a Trinity, and admits neither addition nor diminution. It is always perfect. In the Trinity one Godhead is acknowledged, and so in the Church one God proclaimed, the Father of the Word. (St. Athanasius of Alexandria)

Tomorrow is the day our Savior is born: what a joy for us, my beloved. This is no season for sadness, this, the birthday of life- the life which annihilates the fear of death, and engenders joy, promising, as it does, immortality. Nobody is an outsider to this happiness. The same cause for joy is common to all, for as Our Lord found nobody free from guilt when he came to bring an end to death and sin, so he came with redemption for all. Let the saints rejoice for they hasten towards their crown; let the sinner be filled with joy, for pardon is freely offered; let the Gentiles be emboldened, for they are called to life. When the designated time had come, which God in his deep and impenetrable plan had fixed upon, God’s Son took human nature in order to reconcile us to our Creator. Thus, would the devil, the father of death, be himself overcome by that self-same human nature which he had overcome. Tomorrow we see the angels exult at the birth of the Lord: they sing “Glory to God in high heaven”; they announce peace for all men and women. How greatly should we rejoice at this mysterious undertaking of divine love, when the angels on high thrill so much at it! My beloved, let us offer thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit. In the great mercy with which he loved us, he had pity on us, and gave us life, so that we would be a new creation, a new work of his hands. Let us then quit of the old self and the habits that went with it. Sharers now in the birth of Christ, let us break with the deeds of the flesh. O Christian, be aware of your nobility-it is God’s own nature that you share: do not then, by an ignoble life, fall into your former baseness. Think of the Head, think of the Body of which you are a member. Recall that you have been rescued from the power of darkness, and have been transferred to the light of God. Rejoice! Celebrate! (Pope St. Leo the Great)

In the Book of Ruth we can find something that may rather fittingly be applied to the Mother of God. In her own person Ruth was quite praiseworthy; in her family she was conspicuous, being born of the base and accursed people of Moab. She chose to leave her relatives and the land of her birth and to reside in a land not her own. There, because of the great integrity of her life and habits, she was joined in marriage to a distinguished man of the Israelite people, named Boaz, and by him she had a son named Obed, who was father of the father of King David, of whose seed Christ, the Son of God, was born. The name ‘Ruth’ means ‘hastening’, and the name, we think, is suited to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was always ‘hastening’, that is, fervent in holy and good works. Ruth was descended from the base and accursed race of the Moabites; Mary was born of that people whom the blame for original sin had rendered ignoble and accursed. Ruth left her native land and her relatives in order to practice the faith of her mother-in-law, and she resided in a land not her own. Mary left her native place and her parents when, in order to remain faithful to God the Father and preserve her own chastity, she separated herself from the common life of the world. She regarded herself as an exile and pilgrim in this world, for she contemned everything that the present world loves, and she was hastening to the only true and endless glory of the heavenly homeland. From the lineage of Ruth King David was born; from the virginal flesh of the Virgin Mary was born our true David, of strong arm and comely face, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the entire world has been saved. Tamar, the ancestor of Boaz, prayed: Most merciful Judge, recognize in me faith and hope and love of you. These are your gifts, which you have given to me; as best I could, with your help, I have preserved them as a testimony to my salvation and have brought them back to you. Since these gifts have been acknowledged by Judah, that is, by God the Father, the soul shall be received into the joys of everlasting blessedness through him who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen. (Abbot Godfrey of Admont)

[W]e make a holiday of Christmas only if we have the strength of mind to creep up the nursery stairs again, and pretend that we never came down them. And that is what we are doing when we pay our visit to the Christmas crib. We are going back to the nursery where life, supernatural life, first dawned for us; trying to recapture some breath of our own first innocence, as we look at the girl Mother, and the divine Infant, and the manger which was all the cradle he had. It is difficult, at first, to get acclimatised to its atmosphere; everything is so quiet, so secret; the world is so remote; you feel as if there were a conspiracy afoot to keep you out of it. But this is where you belong; you, too, have been born into the family of grace, and this is the cradle of it. Unto us a Child is born, to restore something of childhood, year by year, even to the most jaded, even to the most sophisticated, even to the most disillusioned of us. (Mgr Ronald Knox)


     As you can see, there’s a downside to attending the vigil Mass for Christmas at such a convenient hour — namely, having to stand through the proclamation of our Lord’s genealogy.  But look at it this way, at least you didn’t have to read it!  Now you might be wondering what’s the purpose of this biblical version of What’s My Line? on the night before Christmas.  After all, the list of Jesus’ ancestors on Joseph’s side seems out of place in the Christmas story so familiar to us.  What do these strange-sounding names have to do with angels and shepherds, animals and a manger, which make up the Nativity scene?

     Well, just from a human standpoint, we’re all a little curious about our family tree, to know something about our roots and our heritage. I know how moving it was for me to visit the town where my mother’s parents were born in Italy.  Now you can stay home and will tell you all about it.  Why, you can even have your DNA tested to find out where your line is from.  We have a natural interest in such things.  But there’s more going on in the roster of Jesus’ lineage as the adopted son of Joseph, the husband of Mary (G).

     For one thing, the list includes some shady characters.  Now we all have some unusual branches on our family tree, a few skeletons dancing away in the family closet.  Who knows, they might even be coming for dinner tomorrow!I remember some time back how the descendants of John Wilkes Booth won the right to disinter his body for DNA testing to prove a theory someone else was buried in his grave and therefore he wasn’t really Lincoln’s assassin.  So even generations later, people will go to great lengths to remove a clot in the blood lines.

     But that’s the strange thing about Jesus’ genealogy: the potential embarrassments were left in.  In fact, Matthew seems to go out of his way to tell us the Lord had some relatives who didn’t enjoy the best reputations — or who were at unusual in such a list. To begin with, there’s the presence of women.  That’s strange in itself given the times, since such lists would normally be concerned only with male ancestors.  But when you look at which women are mentioned, and some of the men with whom they’re paired, well, things get even stranger.

     First of all, there’s Tamar the seductress, who pretended to be a harlot, in order to have relations with a client who just happened to be her father-in-law, Judah, from which her twin boys, Perez and Zerah, were born.  Then there’s Rahab who helped Joshua take the city of Jericho.  She was, in fact, a prostitute, who later married Salmon.  They had a son named Boaz, who married Ruth.  Now Ruth was a Moabite, people whom the Israelites held in contempt, thinking their offspring unclean down to the tenth generation.  Nevertheless, Ruth was David’s great-grandmother.  And speaking of David, one of Jesus’ most illustrious ancestors, the genealogy mentions the wife of Uriah, Bathsheba.  She was the one with whom David committed adultery, and when she was found with child, David had her husband killed in order to marry her.  I’ll bet you never knew much of the Bible reads like an episode from All My Children!

     So what’s Matthew trying to tell us about the Messiah whose birth we celebrate tomorrow?  Why does he include, quite on purpose, these relatives with their peculiar stories and marital states--these potential blots on the human lineage of God’s Son?  Well, for one thing, they point to the fact God uses the strange and unexpected to bring his plans to birth, lest we ever get to thinking God's ways and our ways have much in common.  And never more so than when the Messiah was born from a Virgin, having been found with child through the Holy Spirit.  Her Child conceived of divine seed: the One they shall name Emmanuel, which means,‘God is with us.’ (G).

     As if this weren't enough of a reason for Matthew's strange genealogy, I think there’s even more to his record.  For the presence of such figures among the ancestors of the Messiah shows forth God’s desire to embrace in Christ the human condition with all its imperfection: hence taking the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (G)  By willing to assume mortal flesh, so susceptible to sin, he fulfills the plan hidden before all ages: our frailty assumed by [God’s] Word (cf. Preface of Christmas III).  In a manger, on a bed of hay, in swaddling clothes, of poor parents, marveled by shepherds, on a cold winter's night in the little town of Bethlehem.  

     All so we may be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the Lord . . . No more [called] ‘Forsaken’. . . But called [God’s] delight. (cf. I)  For the God of [the] people Israel chose our ancestors and exalted in them . . . . And from [these] descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to [us] a savior, Jesus (cf. II).  Who lives and reigns, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Nicene Creed


Intercessions  (Mary Grace Melcher)

For the church, God’s chosen people, His
virgin bride, that her rejoicing may be in
her bridegroom, who took flesh in Jesus
and came to dwell among us.

That God’s covenant of love may stand
firm with all nations as they again seek
to know His justice, obey His laws, and
experience His peace.

That we may imitate St. Joseph’s faith and
obedience, as He quietly left behind His
own doubts and took Mary into His home,
giving Jesus His name and the shelter of
protecting love.

That we may greet the birth of our divine
Savior with the humility of John the Baptist,
and herald His new coming into our lives
with reverent joy.

For those who are forsaken and desolate,
that they may be called by a new name,
and become a glorious crown in the hand
of the Lord as He fills them with His joy.

For all who have completed their course,
who have passed beyond the gates of death,
that they may be celebrating this Christmas
in the exultation of the heavenly kingdom.

God of Abraham and Sarah,
of David and his descendants,
unwearied is your love for us
and steadfast your covenant;
wonderful beyond words
is your gift of the Saviour,
born of the Virgin Mary.
Count us among the people in whom you delight,
and by this night’s marriage of earth and heaven
draw all generations into the embrace of your love.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendour of eternal light,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Chant


“The Offertory is taken from Psalm xxiii. The gates of a blessed eternity, closed after the first sin, and guarded by an angel with a flaming sword, are at last to be opened for the triumphal entry of the Saviour of the world. He, indeed, as St Paul teaches us in his letter to the Hebrews, has, through the merits of his precious Blood, the right to enter once for all into the sanctuary of heaven, and bring all believers with him in his train. Yet, according to the present plan of salvation, glory is closely bound up with humiliation; hence the supreme exultation of redeemed humanity begins when its leader and firstborn abases himself, and, making himself of no account, puts on the poor garments of our human nature.”

Offertory Hymn


Cold is the edge of the night wind,

Breathing of life, yet of danger,

Heralded only by starlight,

God’s dear Son lies in a manger.

Search the dark sky for a portent,

Star that says, “Here is no creature.

My light shines down on a baby.

See in his face the Lord’s features.”

Lost in the bliss of his slumber,

Briefly not needing another,

Jesus evokes by his being

Rapture most pure by his Mother.

Heaven is full of the glory

Angels reflect in their singing.

Tinkle of cowbell in stable,

Now through the universe ringing.

Here in the smile of an infant

God lifts the burden of worry,

Human hope finds its fulfillment;

Jesus undoes all our hurry.

Where, Lord, the key to your secret

Entrance to David’s royal city?

Only the poor will unearth it,

Hid in your love and your pity.

Communion Chant


“In the Communion, Isaias announces to us for the last time in this Advent season the near approach of the Messiah. God will show forth his glory, and then not only Judea, but all mankind, shall look upon the divine Saviour clothed in human flesh. Religion will cease to be the monopoly of a tribe or clan that takes up arms against another for worshipping Bel or Astarte; rather will it become the precious patrimony of regenerated humanity, conscious of one common origin and possessed of one identical end and aim.”

Closing Hymn


Dost Thou in a manger lie,
who hast all created,
Stretching infant hands on high,
Savior, long awaited?
If a monarch, where Thy state?
Where Thy court on Thee to wait?
Scepter, crown, and sphere?
Here no regal pomp we see;
Naught but need and penury;
why thus cradled here?

“For the world a love supreme
brought Me to this stable.
All creation to redeem,
I alone am able…

By this lowly birth of Mine,
sinner, riches shall be thine,
Matchless gifts and free;
willingly this yoke I take,
And this sacrifice I make,
heaping joys for thee.”
Christ, we praise with voices bold,
laud and honor raising;
For these mercies manifold
Join the hosts in praising.
Father, glory be to Thee
for the wondrous charity
Of Thy Son, our Lord!
Better witness to Thy worth,
Purer praise than ours on earth,
angels’ songs afford.