4th Sunday of Advent (a)
This Week’s Liturgy Calendar.
Sunday 22nd December: 4th Sunday of Advent (a)
The first reading, at the beginning of this last week of Advent, is from the Prophet Isaiah (7:10-14). In a national emergency, God gives a sign that he will save his people. A young woman will give birth to a son whose name means ‘God is with us.’ The birth of this child is made the sign of hope.
The second reading is from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans (1:1-7). Paul professes his faith in Jesus Christ. He is the Saviour announced by the prophets. He is man, for he is a descendant of David; he is God’s Son and our risen Lord, to whom we belong.
In the Gospel passage (1:18-24), Matthew presents the son to be born of Mary, as the promised ‘God-is-with-us,’ for he is David’s son through Joseph, his legal foster father and born to the Virgin Mother Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Monday 23rd December: Advent Weekday 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.
Tuesday 24th December: Advent Weekday 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.
All is now Ready
The Season of Christmas.
Wednesday 25th December: The Nativity of the Lord.
At the first Mass of Christmas, we hear again from the Prophet Isaiah. A child born to us will bring us light and peace from God.
In the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to Titus, we are reminded that the coming of Jesus was God’s gift of grace to all people. It is a reminder to us of what is expected of us if we are to enjoy the salvation won for us by Christ.
In the Gospel, the powerful words ring out – ‘Today a Saviour has been born to us.’ This is the Good News of today so let us give glory and thanks to God.
The readings at the ‘Dawn Mass’ mirror those above. Isaiah encourages the people as they return home from exile. God will make them new through the coming of the Messiah.
In the Letter to Titus, Paul reminds us how God never tires of being good. His Son was born as our Saviour. We are reborn in Baptism. God’s love keeps making us new and leads us to eternal life. All this happens to shows us the compassion of God.
The shepherds go to Bethlehem in the Gospel passage to see the Saviour and then tell others of what they had heard and seen. That same role is ours – to make God known and seen in our world today through bringing Christ to birth in our lives.
In the first reading of the ‘Day Mass’, God announces liberation to his people in captivity.
The letter to the Hebrews reminds us how God has often spoken to people, but since the coming of his Son, Jesus, we can see what God means ands who God is.
The powerful prologue of St. John’s Gospel speaks to us of the mystery of Jesus – he is the image of the Father, his Word become a man, his light in our darkness, he is God living among us.
Thursday 26th December: Feast of St. Stephen.
Stephen was the first martyr to shed his blood for Christ. His zeal and integrity annoyed many and as a result he was stoned to death for witnessing to his newfound faith. One of the witnesses to his death was Saul, the future apostle Paul.
Friday 27th December: Feast of St. John.
John, like his brother James, was a fisherman when Our Lord called him. He is often referred to as ‘the beloved disciple’ of Jesus. He was the only one of the twelve who was at the foot of the cross when Jesus died along with Mary, the mother of Jesus. He lived to a great age, suffering persecution and exile but not martyrdom. His Gospel, the Book of Revelation and his three letters are much more reflective but he is above all else a herald of the new life of grace brought to humanity by Christ.
Saturday 28th December: Feast of the Holy Innocents.
Herod the Great had a huge influence on Judah, building many cities and palaces. He was also a very violent and unscrupulous person. He was afraid of any kind of threat to his position. When he learned of the birth of the new king, he was worried and so tried to eliminate all possible candidates around Bethlehem. It was only after his death that Joseph brought Mary and Jesus back to Nazareth from Egypt where they had fled for safety.
The feast has been kept since at least the fifth century.