The Gospel today is a story very familiar to us all. In countless schools all over the world at this time of year families will normally crowd into school halls and watch young children re-enact this story. For some it is just that, a story, but to us, as Christians it heralds an announcement which fulfils the words of the prophets from the Old Testament.

St Luke’s Gospel is the only one which tells us about the angel Gabriel, he appears first of all to Zechariah (St John the Baptist’s Dad) and then to Our Lady bringing news of great joy to both families. The reaction of both to their angelic visitor contrasted each other. Zechariah’s reaction was of disbelief, Mary’s reaction was acceptance and an affirmative yes, telling Gabriel that she agreed to God’s request of her.

In our first reading David wants to take the initiative and build a house to honour God, God does not want this. Instead, God; who has already raised David up from being a lowly shepherd on his father’s land to the king of Israel; promises that He will raise a house for David. David is given a promise that his “sovereignty will always stand secure… and his throne (will) be established forever”. In Luke’s Gospel we hear how that promise is fulfilled, Mary who is betrothed to Joseph, of the house of David, will have a son who will be given the throne of his ancestor David and his reign will have no end. We have probably heard these words so often that the awesomeness of them have been lost over time.

We, like David and Mary have very little to offer God, after all, everything we have comes from God. David was a shepherd boy who would become the King of Israel; Mary a lowly maiden, who would become the Queen of Heaven. We do not know exactly what God has instore for us; but we do know that he keeps his promises. We know that through the birth of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection has opened up for us the opportunity to be like God, just as he became man.

Today’s scriptures give us very good examples, in the first reading David is being reminded that God is in charge, that His will must be done. Our Gospel shows us acceptance of that will and obedience to that will, when Mary said, “let what you have said be done to me.” Our second reading has St Paul telling us, through his letter to the Romans, that these events are so great that they must be “broadcast to pagans everywhere, to bring them to the obedience of faith.” This is our Baptismal duty, to share the Word of God to those we meet, it is not just the job of the clergy and religious.

We all need to ask ourselves, as we head closer to Christmas, what have I done to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to others? How will I relive the Nativity this year when there are so many restrictions in place?

I think it is really important that we don’t just sit back and let the worldly Christmas happen. As Christians we need to ensure that this is kept as a Holy Day, it is not just about giving and receiving presents, or eating and drinking excessively as some would have us believe. Nor is it an event which people can cancel.

This day is when we remember that Jesus Christ was born of a Virgin, from the House of David, this same Jesus is the Son of God, he lived, died and rose again and is now seated at the right hand of His Father, where he reigns forever. Christmas Day is when we as Christians remember the past and look forward to the future; remembering that we will be judged one day and we all live in the hope of a merciful judgement.

2020 has been a difficult year for most people, with the restrictions placed upon populations all over the world to try and limit the spread of the virus. We have all been asked to be responsible as we approach Christmas and plan for how we will celebrate next weekend. Modern technology allows many of us to get together virtually; but not everyone has access to this. Please consider those who do not have access, these people may have no-one to interact with them, if you can find a way of interacting with them which keeps everyone safe, please do so. Please try and make sure that everyone has someone to speak with either virtually or physically this Christmas.

Next Saturday, we will celebrate St Stephen’s Day. St Stephen is the patron saint of altar servers. At St Bede’s we are inviting all of the altar servers and their families to come along to the 09:30 am Mass. We have missed seeing you all on the Sanctuary during the lockdown and we look forward to a time when you can all join in the services again to help enrich our liturgy.

I wish you all a blessed week, one without stress, one where you can truly enjoy the real meaning of what this celebration is all about.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are homeless, that this winter someone will provide them a room at the inn.
  • Those who need support from Foodbanks, that they are not too proud to accept help.
  • Those recovering from operations, that they avoid infection and make a strong recovery.
  • Those looking for work at this time, that their efforts will be rewarded.
  • Those planning Christmas get togethers, that their plans do not put anyone else at risk.
  • Our doctors, nurses, medical staff and care workers, unpaid carers, and all other keyworkers, that their efforts will result in more people recovering from the virus.
  • Our priests and others who live alone; as we continue with the Covid restrictions, may we be sensitive to their needs.
  • Those with health issues who are afraid to go to the doctor for fear of wasting their time, may they seek the help they need .
  • All of our Parish volunteers who give of their time so generously, we thank them for all that they add to our Liturgy and all that they do to ensure our Churches remain open.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 19th December 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.