Advent: 19 December
 

“There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren and had borne no children.” (Judges 13:2)

Saint Ambrose of Milan offers the following insight on this verse from today’s First Reading:

When the spirit of the Hebrews had been so crushed by long and injurious subjection that no one with manly vigor dared to encourage them to freedom, there arose in their behalf a great hero, Samson, whose destiny was ordained by God’s words. He was not numbered with the many, but outstanding among the few; he was without question easily reckoned as surpassing all in bodily strength. We must regard him with great admiration from the very beginning, not because he gave great evidence of temperance and sobriety from boyhood by abstaining from wine, nor because as a Nazarite he was ever faithful to guard his sacred trust, with locks unshorn, but because from his youth — a period of softness in others, but truly remarkable in him — he worked amazing deeds of strength, perfect beyond the measure of human nature. By his deeds he soon gained credence for that divine prophecy. For no slight cause had such great graces preceded him that an angel came down to foretell to his parents his unexpected birth, the leadership he would hold and the protection he would give his people who had been tormented so long by the oppressive rule of the Philistines.

His godfearing father was of the tribe of Dan, of no low station in life, preeminent among others. His mother, a barren woman, was not unfruitful in the virtues of the soul. She was worthy to receive into the dwelling of her soul the vision of an angel, whose command she obeyed and whose words she fulfilled. She did not permit herself to know even the secrets of God without her husband’s sharing of them; she told him that a man of God had appeared to her, of wondrous beauty, bringing her a prophecy that a child would be born. Because she trusted his promises she shared with her husband her trust in these heavenly pledges.” (Letter 35)


Collect
O God,
Who through the child-bearing of the holy Virgin
graciously revealed the radiance
of Your glory to the world,
grant, we pray,
that we may venerate with integrity of faith
the mystery of so wondrous an Incarnation
and always celebrate it with due reverence.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 
 
 
 

Advent: 18 December
 

“See, days are coming when I will raise up a righteous branch for David; As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.” (Jeremiah 23:5)

Pope Saint Leo the Great offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel:

“There was only one remedy in the secret of the divine plan that could help the fallen living in the general ruin of the entire human race. This remedy was that one of the sons of Adam should be born free and innocent of original transgression, to prevail for the rest by his example and by his merits. This was not permitted by natural generation. There could be no clean offspring from our faulty stock by this seed. The Scripture says, “Who can make a clean thing conceived of an unclean seed? Isn’t it you alone?” David’s Lord was made David’s Son, and from the fruit of the promised branch sprang. He is one without fault, the twofold nature coming together into one person. By this one and the same conception and birth sprung our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom was present both true Godhead for the performance of mighty works and true manhood for the endurance of sufferings.” (Sermon 28)


Collect
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that we, who are weighed down from of old
by slavery beneath the yoke of sin,
may be set free by the newness
of the long-awaited Nativity
of Your Only Begotten Son.
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 
 
 
 

Advent: 17 December
 

“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise your hand on the neck of your enemies; the sons of your father shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s cub, you have grown up on prey, my son. He crouches, lies down like a lion, like a lioness—who would dare rouse him?” (Genesis 49:8-9)

Saint Ambrose of Milan offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel:

“A lion’s whelp is Judah.” Isn’t it clear that he represented the Father and manifested the Son? Is there any clearer way to teach that God the Son is of one nature with the Father? The one is the lion, the other the lion’s whelp. By this paltry comparison, their unity in the same nature and power is perceived. King proceeds from king, a strong one from one who is strong. Because Jacob foresaw that there would be those to claim that the Son was younger in age, he replied to them by adding, “From my seed you have come up to me. Resting you have slept like a lion and like a whelp.” And in a different passage you find that the whelp is himself “the lion of the tribe of Judah.” But the Son is not being named in such a way as to be separated from the Father. Jacob, who confesses the Son, also esteems him equal.

Moreover, he represented the Son’s incarnation in a wonderful fashion when he said, “From my seed you have come up to me.” For Christ sprouted in the womb of the Virgin like a shrub upon the earth; like a flower of pleasing fragrance, he was sent forth in the splendor of new light and came up from his mother’s vitals for the redemption of the entire world. Just so, Isaiah says, “There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall come up out of the root.” The root is the household of the Jews, the rod is Mary, the flower of Mary is Christ. She is rightly called a rod, for she is of royal lineage, of the house and family of David. Her flower is Christ, who destroyed the stench of worldly pollution and poured out the fragrance of eternal life. ”

Therefore you have become acquainted with the incarnation; learn of the passion. “Resting, you have slept like a lion.” When Christ lay at rest in the tomb, it was as if he were in a kind of bodily sleep, as he himself says, “I have slept and have taken my rest and have risen up, because the Lord will sustain me.” On this account also Jacob says, “Who will arouse him?” that is, him whom the Lord will take up. Who else is there to rouse him again, unless he rouses himself by his own power and the power of the Father? I see that he was born by his own authority, I see that he died by his own will; I see that he sleeps by his own power. He did all things by his own dominion; will he need the help of someone else to rise again? Therefore he is the author of his own resurrection, he is the judge of his death; he is expected by the nations. (The Patriarchs, 4)


Collect
O God, Creator and Redeemer of human nature,
who willed that your Word should take flesh
in an ever-virgin womb,
look with favor on our prayers,
that your Only Begotten Son,
having taken to himself our humanity,
may be pleased to grant us a share in his divinity
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 
 
 
 

Advent Week 3: Tuesday

“From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia and as far as the recesses of the North, they shall bring me offerings.” (Zephaniah 3:10)

Origen of Alexandria comments on these verses from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

“f anyone is able, insofar as he found that Israel is saved “after the full number of pagan nations,” let him consider having passed over by reason the remaining period, when it is that “all serve God under a single yoke,” according to what is said in Zephaniah, “And from the ends of Ethiopia they offer sacrifices to him,” when, as it is said in the sixty-seventh psalm, “Ethiopia stretches forth its hand to God,” and “to the kings of the earth” the word commands, saying, “Sing to the Lord, raise a psalm to the God of Jacob.” (Homilies on Jeremiah, 5)



Collect
O God,
Who through Your Only Begotten Son
have made us a new creation,
look kindly, we pray,
on the handiwork of Your mercy,
and at Your Son’s coming
cleanse us from every stain of the old way of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 
 
 
 
 

Advent Week 3: Monday
 

“I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near: A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel, That shall smite the brows of Moab, and the skulls of all the Shuthites...” (Numbers 24:17)

In commenting upon this verse from today’s Mass Readings, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“Listen to the Evangelist’s words about Caiaphas, the high priest of the Jews: “He did not give this as a personal opinion, but in his capacity of high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was destined to die, not for the person alone but to bring together into one also the nations that had been scattered.” You will find something like it occurring again in the story of Balaam also: When urged to curse the people, he not merely did not curse them but even prophesied great and wonderful things, not merely about the people but also about the coming of the Savior.” (Homilies on Genesis, 21)
 
 
Collect
Incline a merciful ear to our cry,
we pray, O Lord,
and,
casting light on the darkness of our hearts,
visit us with the grace of your Son.
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen





— Advent Week 3: Sunday —
Words of The Word
 

Antiphon
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near. (cf Philippians 4:4-5).

Responsorial Psalm
My soul rejoices in my God. (Isaiah 61:10).

Scripture Excerpt
“The spirit (רוּחַ ruach) of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed (מָשַׁח mashach) me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings (בָּשַׂר bāsar) to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God (Isaiah 61:1-2a).”
“I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation (יָשַׁע yasha) and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels. As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise spring up before all the nations (Isaiah 61:10-11).”

Reflection
When was the last time you addressed someone with “glad tidings” or a person addressed you with the same greeting? The question would be the same if “glad tidings” was substituted by the word gospel. Many Christians tend to think the word gospel is unique to the Christian experience bearing the names Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. Historically, the English word that comes to us as gospel has a rich foundation in the cultures of the Ancient Near East as well as the Persian and Greek military machines. In the pages of the Old Testament, glad tidings (בָּשַׂר bāsar) is often associated with war, particularly victory. The victor and company sing the “glad tidings” of a new way of living that the victory has effected. More specifically, numerous uses of glad tidings (בָּשַׂר bāsar) in the Old Testament center on David either victorious in basttle or protected against his enemies. Accounts of victorious battles or protection from those who sought to kill him were often couched in the language of glad tidings (בָּשַׂר bāsar). Around the time of Alexander the Great when a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures occurred (a text known as the Septuagint and commonly abbreviated by the Roman numeral LXX (70) because it is believed that 70 elders were involved in the production of the Greek translation) “to bring glad tidings (בָּשַׂר bāsar)” was translated εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo, gospel) “To announce good news” in the Persian-Greek era was to announce victory over one’s enemy or enemies. In time, the use of εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo, gospel) appeared to be somewhat restricted to news of victory concluding a war. While there were (and still are!) many events that constituted “good news,” Alexander’s time opted for a more restrictive identity of “good news” linked to a victorious end of a war or military campaign.

Prior to Alexander the Great and still within the Tradition of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Advent’s Prophet of Hope made use of glad tidings (בָּשַׂר bāsar), especially in the chapters beginning at 40. In the Isaian text proclaimed last week, “glad tidings (בָּשַׂר bāsar)” was news intimately linked to freedom from captivity, a freedom that resulted from the transformation (not annihilation) of obstacles. “Go up on to a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings (בָּשַׂר basar); cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news (בָּשַׂר basar)! Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by his strong arm; here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care (Isaiah 40:9-11).” True to his time and culture, Isaiah conveys a sense of the military (“power,” and “rules by his strong arm”) but notice the other aspect: the ‘good news’ of feeding, carrying and leading. These actions are at the heart of living, especially in and on a land that is often hostile to life. These actions became concrete images in the Old Testament describing (never defining, that is, limiting) the experience of salvation (יָשַׁע yasha or yesha [the Hebrew root of Jesus!]). Salvation (יָשַׁע yasha) in the context of the Old Testament is about living on a land that is broad and wide, not hemed in to or by a tight space. On this land that is broad and wide, one has sufficient resources for a family to live: sufficient drinking water for family, livestock and crops. One has sufficient food for family and herd. Sufficient clothing and housing offers protection from nature (a scorching sun by day and surprisingly cold night) and criminals. For Isaiah this was all experienced as pure and complete gift from a Providential God of Love.


For Isaiah, this proclamation of glad tidings (בָּשַׂר basar) is an act of creation. It brings into existence and establishes order and harmony that did not exist prior to the proclamation. Glad tidings (בָּשַׂר basar) is power that transforms even the most colossal obstacle into a vehicle of life and love. It is for this reason that one is anointed (מָשַׁח mashach). The concrete image of an abundant ‘rubbing oil into’ (not a passive pouring of drops) equips the recipient with the power necessary to call being into existence. That is truly the work of Messiah whose root in Hebrew is means “anointed.” The Messiah whose birth we prepare to celebrate reminds us that we too have been anointed for mission through Baptism and Confirmation (and Ordination). Following the initiative of and working with the Holy Spirit, we model John the Baptist in speaking a word to burn complacency from our midst as the glad tidings of Divine Love are breathed into a waiting world and longing hearts.

Collect
O God, Who see how Your people
faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,
enable us, we pray,
to attain the joys of so great a salvation
and to celebrate them always
with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 
 
 
 
 
 

— The Lord’s Day —
Advent Week 3: Sunday
 

“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners. To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria reflects on these verses from today’s First Reading:

“Being God by nature, the Only Begotten is the holy of holies, and he sanctifies all creation and so originates from the holy Father with the Holy Spirit proceeding from him and sending in the power from above to those on earth who recognize him. How was he sanctified? For he is God and man equally; he gives the Spirit to creation but receives the Spirit on account of being human.

“Acceptable” is that year in which we were received, when we took kinship with him, having our sins washed away through holy baptism and becoming partakers of the divine nature through the sharing of the Holy Spirit. Or “acceptable” is the year in which he revealed his glory through the divine miracle attesting the message. We received the time for salvation gladly — the day of reckoning is none other than the time of his dwelling among us in which the reckoning has been given by him to those believing in him through the promise in hope. For the Savior himself said, “Now is the judgment of this world, now is the prince of the world cast out.” The time of reckoning, then, is in this manner, when Christ illuminated the world.” (Commentary on Isaiah, 5)


Collect
O God, who see how your people
faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,
enable us, we pray,
to attain the joys of so great a salvation
and to celebrate them always
with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 
 
 
 
 

— Saint Lucy —
Advent Week 2: Saturday
 

“Until like fire a prophet appeared, his words a flaming furnace.” (Sirach 48:1)

Origen of Alexandria offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel:

“If we understand what it means to be subject to Christ, especially in light of the passage, “And when everything is subject, he also, the Son, will subject himself to him who made everything subject to him,” then we will understand the lamb of God who takes on himself the sin of the world in a way worthy of the goodness of the God of the universe. And yet the lamb does not take on himself the sins of all, if they do not suffer and experience torment until their sins are taken from them. There are in fact thorns that are not merely loose but firmly stuck in the hands of whoever is so drunk with vice as to even forget the state of sobriety, as it says in Proverbs, “Thorns are hidden in the hands of a drunkard.” Must we spend words describing what troubles such implanted evils cause to the one who accepts them in the body of his soul? One who has accepted moral evil so deeply in his soul as to become a land that produces thorns needs to be deeply cut by the living Logos of God, which is “effective and sharper than any two-edged sword,” hotter than any fire. Into a soul reduced to this state, that fire must be sent that is capable of finding the thorns and getting at them in virtue of its divinity, without setting fire to the stems and ears of the fields. Many are the ways in which the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world, in the first place through the sacrifice of himself. Some of these ways can be shown to the many, while others are hidden to them and known only to those considered worthy of the divine wisdom.” (Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, 6.)

 
 
Collect
May the glorious intercession
of the Virgin and Martyr Saint Lucy
give us new heart, we pray, O Lord,
so that we may celebrate her heavenly birthday
in this present age
and so behold things eternal.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen





— Our Lady of Guadalupe —
Advent Week 2: Friday
 

“And coming to her, he [Gabriel] said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)

Origen of Alexandria offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel:

“The angel greeted Mary with a new address, which I could not find anywhere else in Scripture. I ought to explain this expression briefly. The angel says, "Hail, full of grace." I do not remember having read this word elsewhere in Scripture. An expression of this kind, "Hail, full of grace," is not addressed to a male. This greeting was reserved for Mary alone. Mary knew the Law; she was holy, and had learned the writings of the prophets by meditating on them daily. If Mary had known that someone else had been greeted by words like these, she would never have been frightened by this strange greeting. Hence the angel says to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary! You have found grace in God’s eyes. Behold, you will conceive in your womb. You will bear a son, and you will name him ‘Jesus.’ He will be great, and will be called ‘Son of the Most High.’” (Homilies on the Gospel of Luke, 6.)


Collect
O God, Father of mercies,
who placed your people
under the singular protection
of your Son’s most holy Mother,
grant that all who invoke
the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe,
may seek with ever more lively faith
the progress of peoples
in the ways of justice and of peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen





Advent Week 2: Thursday
 

“For I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, Do not fear, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria reflects on this verse from today’s Gospel, writes:

“There are many who think of the holy mysteries and the saving message in disrespectful ways, but they amount to nothing, and such impious adversaries will perish. For those who oppose the divine agents of preaching are doing no less than fighting against the teachings of godliness. For thousands will make war against God’s ministers, but these will end up as though they never existed and will clearly be brought low, falling under the machinery of the wrath of God. [Isaiah] tells them to quit relying on human strength and their own foolhardiness, saying, “I am your God who strengthens your arm,” that is, I am the one who supports you and makes you prevail in any test. I say to you, “Do not be afraid, O little Israel.” (Commentary on Isaiah, 3)



Collect
Stir up our hearts, O Lord,
to make ready the paths
of Your Only Begotten Son,
that through His coming,
we may be found worthy to serve You
with minds made pure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen