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December 31, 2018: The Seventh Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord

Reading 1 John 2:18-21
Gospel John 1:1-18

Thus we know this is the last hour.

Because the Nativity is always celebrated on December 25, the seventh day of the Octave of Christmas is always December 31. While the world prepares to celebrate tonight the passing from one year to the next, the Church encourages us to meditate upon what is eternal by means of one of the most beautiful passages from the Gospel.

The prologue of St. John’s Gospel account—John 1:1-18—summarizes the whole of his account, but even also the whole of salvation history. In fact, the prologue stretches even beyond history into eternity. This Scripture passage is proclaimed at the end of almost every Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. This proclamation, as the Mass ends and those participating in it prepare to return to “the world”, reminds us that our destiny lies within eternity and not in the world.

About two-thirds of the way into this passage are the words that make this passage especially fitting for proclamation during Christmastide. “And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us....” In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, at the proclamation of this phrase all genuflect in honor of Our Lord, who became Flesh in order to offer that Body and Blood, with His soul and divinity, for the remission of sins on the Cross. In the Ordinary Form of the Mass, an echo of this practice remains, as on two solemnities of the year—the Annunciation and the Nativity—all those present genuflect at the proclamation of this same truth during the profession of the Creed. This truth lies at the heart of our salvation, and certainly also at the heart of the Mystery of the Eucharist, by which we as disciples enter into the life of Christ, now and, we pray, for eternity.