Say to daughter Zion, your savior comes.
Psalm 97:1-6, 11-12
A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us.
He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in the manger.
Background on the Gospel Reading
There are four Masses that are celebrated for the feast of Christmas, and each is given its own set of readings to help us contemplate Christ's birth. The Gospel for the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve is taken from the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, the genealogy of Jesus and the angel's announcement of the birth to Joseph. The Mass at midnight proclaims the birth of Jesus through the angels' announcement to the shepherds in the Gospel of Luke. Luke 2:15-20 is the reading for the mass at dawn on Christmas morning. It continues the story of the birth of Jesus as found in Luke's Gospel with the shepherds' visit to the infant Jesus. Finally, the Gospel for Christmas Mass during the day is taken from the beginning of John's Gospel. It is not an Infancy Narrative like those found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Instead, John's Gospel starts at the very beginning of time and presents Creation as the framework for announcing the Incarnation. John's opening words echo the first verse in the Book of Genesis, “In the beginning was the Word.”
The story of Jesus' birth, which begins with a reference to Caesar Augustus, concludes with the shepherds, people looked down on by most of society, visiting the infant. As the angels return to heaven, the shepherds decide to go see “this thing” that has happened in Bethlehem. Their visit confirms everything the angels had told them about the birth of the Savior and Messiah. They then spoke publicly about all they had seen, to the great astonishment of all who heard. Mary ponders all this in her heart, and the shepherds return to their fields praising God. What had been told to them really happened. This account does not tell us very much about the infant Jesus because Luke's concern is that God's action of sending a savior be publicly proclaimed. As Paul says before King Agrippa in Acts of the Apostles 26:26, “None of this was done in a corner.” The picture is simple, two parents and an infant in a stable. But the reality is great, God's salvation offered to all.