Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord

Dec 20, 2020 | Gospel Reflections

Matthew 1: 1-25

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Marilyn Kerber, SNDdeN

I don’t think I will ever forget the introduction to a Christmas Eve homily I heard many years ago. The celebrant began “It’s a girl!” This certainly brought me, and I would imagine the other Midnight Mass participants, to full attention. The priest proceeded to share with us that his younger sister had just given birth to a baby girl and spoke of their joy, his and that of the entire family.

And this is a common experience throughout the generations, the generations coming before Jesus and in ours. I remember the deep joy of holding a great-niece when she was only weeks old. I am sure each of us has a like memory, your own child, a grandchild, a niece or nephew. And Jesus’ genealogy in Mathew’s Gospel is not so different than our delving into our Family Tree. The homilist that Christmas Eve said his experience gave him an insight into “…the time came for her to have her child and she gave birth to her first born son.” What great joy Mary and Joseph must have experienced! It must have overshadowed Joseph’s angst about taking Mary as his wife and Mary’s concern over what Joseph would think, that they were laying him in a manger, not in a room in an inn. And I would imagine the joy would have out weighted, at least for a time, the responsibility that was theirs for the one whom Isaiah names: Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace! And as today’s reading tells us this child is Emmanuel, “God with us.”

Each Christmas invites us to remember that the Son of God became human, one of us, God with us. We are invited to find the joy in this amazing truth and consider the meaning this truth. It is good to be human with all that it holds, joys and sorrows, anxiety and hope, death and new life, sickness and good health. And you and I are invited on Christmas Eve to remember that “God is with us” and to realize that we are to bring Jesus into this world of ours, not in the same way Mary and Joseph did and nevertheless just as meaningful ways. As St. Teresa of Avila so beautifully says:

“Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.”

May the birth of Jesus bless us. May we find hope and promise in the pains of our labor and may we know life ever new in each grace that comes to us. May we remember that “God is with us,” may God be birthed in us with every prayer and may compassion flower in our every relationship. Not just at Christmas, but each and every day.


Matthew 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.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.


Meet Sister Marilyn Kerber, SNDdeN

Sister Marilyn Kerber resides in Cincinnati, Ohio and originates from Chicago, Illinois. She recently retired as the Director of the Office of Religious for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Marilyn facilitates courses for the University of Dayton’s Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation Program, a program especially for catechists. She is also part of the Ohio Province Development Office’s Ministry of Gratitude. Religious Education is and has been a focus in her ministry. She has been a Parish Director of Religious Education and ministered in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Office of Religious Education for nineteen years. Sister Marilyn enjoys reading, good movies and travel to visit with family and friends and to see the beauty this world has to offer when opportunities to do so present themselves.