4th Sunday of Advent (b)
The Season of Advent.
Sunday 24th December: 4th Sunday of Advent. (b)
Advent is drawing to a close. We have just one day left to prepare for the birth of Christ. On this Sunday, we are invited to follow the example of Our Lady and imitate her faith. She is the one who will teach us how to prepare for the birth of pour Saviour.
In the first reading, from the second Book of Samuel, David is told it is not his role to build a temple for God. God will build a great house for all people. This plan, this promise is fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, son of David.
The Letter to the Romans, in the second reading, reminds us that the mystery kept secret for ages is a secret no more. St. Paul speaks of this mystery being revealed in Jesus Christ.
The story of the Annunciation, in today’s Gospel, is told again. Our Lady is shown as the model of faith and generosity for us all to follow.
The Season of Christmas.
Monday 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.
Tuesday 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.
Wednesday 27th December: Feast of St. John.
John, like his brother James, was a fisherman when Our Lord called him He is referred to, in the gospels, as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ and is believed to have been the youngest of the apostles. He was the only one of the twelve who stood at the foot of the cross with Our Lady. He lived to a great age, suffering persecution and exile but not martyrdom. . He wrote his Gospel, the Book of Revelation and three letters after the other three gospels had been written. His writings are much more reflective, heralding the new life of grace brought by Jesus.
Thursday 28th December: Feast of the Holy Innocents.
Today the Church remembers the children, spoken of by St. Matthew in his Gospel who were slaughtered by order of King Herod. This feast has been celebrated at least since the fifth century. The children are venerated as martyrs because they were put to death on account of Christ. It has been estimated that, if the population of Bethlehem at that time was around about 1000 people, then perhaps 20 or so infant boys were killed.
Friday 29th December: Christmas Octave by date.
During the Christmas octave, the first reading comes from the first letter of St. John. This was one of three letters, meant to encourage unity in the early Church in which there were many divisions. It is very positive and loving in tone.
In the Gospel, we hear the story of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Simeon had been waiting for this moment for many years. He points out that the Child Jesus was not only the fulfilment of the promises made to Israel, he was the light to enlighten the pagans. He also tells how his life will bring heartache and suffering to those who love him most especially Our Lady.
Saturday 30th December: Christmas Octave by date.
St. John reminds us of the difficulty that being too worldly brings with it. We cannot follow Christ if we wrapped up in the things of this world.
The story of the Presentation continues. Anna is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophecies that this is the child who will be the saviour of Jerusalem.
O come let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.