4th Sunday of Advent (c)
The Season of Advent.
Sunday 20th December: The 4th Sunday of Advent (c).
Today is the last Sunday of Advent. As we gather, we reflect on whether we are truly ready for this great feast.
The first reading comes from the Prophet Micah. The promise is given that Bethlehem will be the birthplace of the Shepherd of Israel.
In our second reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews, we reminded that instead of offering services, Jesus offers himself, dedicating himself to do God’s will – a model for all believers.
The Gospel passage presents the story of the Visitation. Our Lady sets out on a long journey to share the news of her pregnancy with her relative Elizabeth who is herself expecting a baby.
Monday 21st December: Advent Feria by Date.
The first reading from Zephaniah, describes the joy and exultation of God’s people now that their Saviour and King is in their midst.
In spite of her condition, Mary sets out to the hilly country to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, the mother to be of John.
O rising Sun,
You are the splendour of light and the sun of justice.
And enlighten those who suit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Tuesday 22nd December: Advent Feria by date.
Today’s readings are full of thanks. Hannah gives thanks for the birth of her son, Samuel and presents him in the temple.
Our Lady visits her cousin, Elizabeth, and gives thanks to God in the great prayer we know as The Magnificat. It is modelled on Hannah’s song of thanksgiving which was used in the Responsorial Psalm today.
Whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one.
And save man whom you made from clay.
Wednesday 23rd December: Advent Feria by date
Before the Messiah comes, a prophet will be sent to prepare the way. He will purify the people.
This special person, whom we hear about in the Gospel, is John the Baptist. His father, Zechariah, receives his power of speech back when he gives his son the name told him by the angel. ‘His name shall be John.’
O Immanuel, you are our king and judge,
The holy One whom the people await and their saviour.
And save us, Lord our God.
Thursday 24th December: Advent Feria by date.
David, the greatest of the kings of Israel, is reminded that his house and sovereignty will always last – as a spiritual kingdom. He had made the mistake of thinking that God’s presence depended on the building of a temple.
After John’s birth, Zechariah makes his great prayer of praise, hope and thanksgiving – what we now call ‘The Benedictus’ said each day in the Prayer of the Church.
O Adonai and leader of the house of Israel,
You appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai.
And save us with your mighty power.
All is now ready !
The Season of Christmas
Friday 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.
Saturday 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.