The Season of Advent.
Sunday 17th December: Third Sunday of Advent. (B)
Today we reach the half way point of Advent. Traditionally, today is called ‘Gaudete’ Sunday which means a day for rejoicing, rejoicing because the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer all the time.
Isaiah’s message in the first reading is the one which Jesus himself uses when he begins his public ministry. It is a message of hope and joy.
St. Paul, in the second reading, tells the Thessalonians how they are to live their lives as they await the second coming.
Although John the Baptist was the focus of last week’s Gospel again today he is at its centre. This time his actions are described by St. John. John declares that he is not the saviour. The Saviour is already present among the people although they do not recognise him.
Monday 18th December: Advent weekday 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.
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!
Tuesday 19th December: Advent weekday by date.
The promise and birth of Samson prefigures that of John. He was destined to save the people from the Philistines. John had the mission to prepare for Jesus who is to be a saviour on a much wider and more spiritual scale.
Zechariah is not able to grasp fully what the angel was telling him and so lost his power of speech until John was born. His faith was not as strong as Joseph’s was on hearing about Jesus’ birth.
Wednesday 20th 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.
Thursday 21st December: Advent weekday 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.
Friday 22nd December: Advent weekday 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.
Saturday 23rd December: Advent Weekday 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.’