This proclamation recalls the great events which set the stage for the birth of Jesus Christ within our human history. Its reading has traditionally preceded the Mass of Christmas Eve.
The 25th Day of December,
when ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world, when God in the beginning created heaven and earth, and formed man in his own likeness;
when century upon century had passed since the Almighty set his bow 1 in the clouds after the Great Flood, as a sign of covenant and peace;
in the 21st century since Abraham, our father in faith, came out of Ur of the Chaldees 2;
in the 13th century since the People of Israel were led by Moses in the Exodus from Egypt;
around the thousandth year since David was anointed King;
in the 65th week of the prophecy of Daniel 3;
in the 194th Olympiad 4;
in the year seven hundred and fifty-two since the foundation of the City of Rome;
in the 42nd year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus5,
the whole world being at peace 6,
JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and when nine months had passed since his conception, was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah, and was made man:
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.
* * * * * * *
- That is, the rainbow.
- The land of Chaldea would be modern-day Iraq.
- The Book of Daniel, chapter 9, foretold that “Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: then transgression will stop and sin will end, guilt will be expiated, everlasting justice will be introduced…” Seventy times 7 years, equals 490 years, which corresponds with the time between Daniel’s prophesy and Christ’s crucifixion.
- The ancient Olympics were held every 4 years & attracted widespread attention, as sports do today.
- He was Julius Caesar’s immediate successor.
- Caesar Augustus’ reign began an era of relative peace in the empire lasting two centuries. This Roman Peace (or Pax Romana) allowed the Gospel message to spread quickly across the known world.