Sunday 16th December: The 3rd Sunday of Advent (c).
Traditionally today is called ‘Gaudete Sunday’ or ‘Rejoicing Sunday.’ The reason for such joy is that the day of the Lord is coming nearer.
In the first reading, from the Prophet Zephaniah, the prophet appeals for joy. The Lord is in the midst of his people so there is no need for fear. We too can take heart from this message of hope.
St. Paul echoes this theme in the extract from the Letter to the Philippians. Be happy, he says and be tolerant. The Lord is very near.
St. John the Baptist, in the Gospel, announces the Good News and makes it very clear that is not the Messiah but is preparing the people for his coming. He tells the people what they must do to prepare for his coming.
Monday 17th December: Weekday of Advent by date.
These are special days now when the thought of the expected Messiah grows in intensity. The kingship will never pass from the house of Jacob into which Jesus will be born. Each of these last days of Advent has a special short prayer or antiphon appealing to the Lord to come. These are known as the ‘O’ antiphons.
This week we also try to understand how Our Lady felt as she looked forward to the birth of her son. The people of Israel were very conscious of their family tree, their genealogy. Today we have the genealogy for Jesus, traced through Joseph back via David to Abraham, the father of the chosen people.
Tuesday 18th December: Weekday of Advent by date.
When the kings of God’s people had not fulfilled their mission of guiding the people to God, the prophet Jeremiah announces that God himself will become the shepherd of his people. The promise of the Messiah is made.
In the Gospel, we are given the fulfilment of the promise – Joseph is told of the conception of Our Lady’s child who is to be called Jesus. Think of Joseph’s faith!
The promise and the birth of Samson are narrated. He will be consecrated to God and from God he will receive great strength that he will use to protect God’s people.
Wednesday 19th December: Weekday of Advent by date.
The birth of John the Baptist is announced by the angel Gabriel in today’s Gospel. Like Samson, he will be consecrated to God. He will lead many back to the true worship of the God of Israel. Zechariah couldn’t fully accept what was being said to him and loses his power of speech until John is born.
Thursday 20th December: Weekday of Advent by date.
The two texts for today compliment each other – the promise made and the promise fulfilled. The child to be born of a young maiden as a sign of Israel’s salvation, speak directly of a son to be born to the king. In later tradition, this text came to be understood as a messianic prophecy which was fulfilled in Mary and in the child born to her.
Friday 21st December: Weekday of Advent by date.
The first reading (from the prophet Zephaniah) describes the joy of Jerusalem because God stays with his people.
The Gospel passage presents us with the account of the Visitation. Mary greets Elizabeth, her cousin, who is also pregnant.
Saturday 22nd December: Weekday of Advent by date.
Today’s readings are a celebration of thanks to the Lord who does great things for humble people who trust in God.
Hannah, from the Book of Samuel) gives thanks to God because he has given her a son. She dedicates him to God. Samuel will be a great prophet of the Lord.
Our Lady sings out her joy and thanks to God for all he has done for her and for allowing her to be the Mother of his son.
We are told today about the birth of the forerunner of Jesus – John the Baptist whose name means ‘God is gracious.’ He will prepare the hearts of the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah.
Shoot of Jesse,
Who stands as an ensign for the people,
Before whom kings shall shut their mouths,
Whom the gentiles shall seek after,
Come to deliver us.
Delay now no longer.
Key of David
and sceptre of the house of Israel.
You open a door that no man can shut.
You close a door that no man can open.
and bring bound out of the dungeon him
Who is sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.
O Rising Sun,
You are the splendour of eternal light
And the sun of justice.
And enlighten those who sit
In darkness and the shadow of death.