Advent: December 21st
Fourth Sunday of Advent
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Old Calendar: Fourth Sunday of Advent
"A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return" (Luke 19:12). This nobleman is Christ, the Son of God, King of all nations. His kingdom is over all men and over all things, both material and spiritual. He has everything in His hand as God and man. But another, Satan, has broken into His kingdom and has made himself master of many of Christ's subjects. In the old dispensation only a small part of humanity, the chosen people, remained faithful to the almighty King.
Christ, the Son of God, came into this "far country" in order to become man and, by means of humility, obedience, and poverty, to cast out the usurper who had taken His subjects. He came to reassert His dominion over all those who had left Him, both Jews and Gentiles.
The feast of St. Peter Canisius
, which is ordinarily celebrated today, is superseded by the Sunday liturgy.O Antiphons ~ Radiant DawnClick here for commentary on the readings in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent
‘The Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel’ (Is 7:14). This well known affirmation by the prophet Isaiah announces the coming of the Messiah into human history. It already gives us a taste of the proximity of that marvelous, stupendous day which will be the ‘dies natalis’ of Jesus. It was foretold by the prophets and proclaimed throughout the whole of Sacred Scriptures that He would be the One who would fulfil and bring them to completion. Our God will be incarnated and born due to the generous willingness of the ‘Virgin’ who, from the very beginning of time, was chosen to be the Mother of the Savior.
On the one hand we see Ahaz’s weak faith as he declined God’s concession to grant him a sign. Whilst on the other hand we see God’s insistence in giving a sign so that His dwelling place amongst men could be fully realized (cf Is 7:10-14). ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife’
(Mt 1:20). Just like in the reading from the prophet Isaiah, yet in a diametrically opposed way to Ahaz’s incredulous attitude, we see Joseph’s full adherence to God’s will. He had just decided to divorce Mary on account of her unexpected pregnancy in accordance with the Law, but upon the Angel’s reassurance ‘he did what he told him to do: he took his wife home’
(Mt 1:24). Joseph’s need for reassurance that the child was the fruit of the Holy Spirit doesn’t diminish his fatherhood but rather enhances it as ‘You must name him Jesus, because He is the One who is to save His people from their sins’
(Mt 1:21). In other words, thanks to his extraordinary fatherhood he, himself accepted and permitted the realization of God’s promise to reside amongst His people. Joseph’s great faith helps us to comprehend that faith assumes a new importance in the most intimate things that belong to us. We are reminded today that everyone of us has received our ‘apostolic mission’ to ‘obtain the obedience of faith’, and to profess our faith in Jesus Christ (cf Rm 1:1-7).
In all of these events we see the great mission that Mary undertook as a privileged instrument in the hands of God. It is thanks to her that God found His home amongst men, as she became that first resting place of the Word: ‘Today O Mary you became the book in which our rule is described. In you today is written the wisdom of the Eternal Father…. O Mary, my sweetest love, in you is written the Word, from whom we have life’s doctrine. You are the table on which that doctrine rests. I see this Word that is written in you, who is not without the holy desire of the cross. Immediately that he was delivered to you, the desire of dying for the health of men, for whom he was incarnated, was grafted and placed in Him.’1
Wake up, therefore, because the birth of the Lord is almost at hand, let us go to meet Him in His glory: to listen to him, to love Him and to follow Him!1
St. Catherine of Siena, Prayers and Elevations
From the Congregation for the Clergy
O King of the Gentiles
"Come and save man, whom Thou hast made out of dust." What is man? He is but a particle of dust, an insignificant creature who has further separated himself from God through sin. He has been cut off from the fountain of truth and banished from God to darkness and misery. Still in the ruins there dwells a spirit that possesses a capacity for truth. In these ashes there is yet a spark that may be fanned to life to burn with the brilliance of divine life. But only God can revive this flame. For this reason the Church cries out, "Come and save man, whom Thou hast made out of dust." Save him who is so weak, so miserable and helpless. Remember his nothingness. Consider the many enemies who lay snares to rob him of divine life and to entice him into sin. Think of his obscured knowledge and his proneness to evil, of his tendency to error, and his weakness in the face of temptation. Guard him from the enticements of the world; shelter him from the poison of erroneous teaching; deliver him from the devil and his angels.
During these days before Christmas, the Church contemplates the overwhelming misery of unregenerated mankind. She cries out, "Come and save man, whom Thou hast made out of dust."
Jesus is King of all nations. "The kings of the earth stood up and the princes met together against the Lord and against His Christ. Let us break their bonds asunder, and let us cast away their yoke from us. He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall deride them. Then shall He speak to them in His anger and trouble them in His rage. But I am appointed king by Him over Sion, His holy mountain. ... The Lord hath said to Me; Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for Thy possession" (Ps. 2:2-8). Well may Herod seek the life of the newborn king. Indeed, many kings and tribes and nations in the course of time shall deprecate the divine King, Christ. But to Him has been given all power in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28: i8). Before Him every knee shall bend, and every tongue shall confess that He is the Lord (Phil. 2:10f.).
The more the mighty condemn the kingship of Christ, the more shall He be exalted by the Father.
Now He comes to us in the form of a lovely child. One day in the presence of the Roman governor He will assert His right to kingship. But after this one public confession of His royal origin He withdraws again into the obscurity which He had freely chosen. For the present He is satisfied with this manifestation of His royal dignity. The day will come, however, when He will manifest it with power and majesty as He comes again on the clouds of heaven. Before all nations God will declare: "I have anointed Him King of Sion. My holy mountain." All men shall pay Him homage as king; all nations shall acclaim Him the King of Glory.
Excerpted from The Light of the World
by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.
6th O Antiphon:
O King of the Gentiles and their desired One,
Who makest two into one,
and deliver man,
whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.
Today is Day Seven of the Christmas Novena.
Commentary for the Readings in the Extraordinary Form:
Fourth Sunday of Advent
"John, the son of Zachary," to a world now awaiting its God, pleads for our final pre-Christmas "make ready." "Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight His paths" (Gospel).
Heroically, in the desert, he warns against the softness of life in the city, pictured in the background. Alive to the danger of a "soft garments" life, he is seen in a rough "garment of camel hair," carrying a baptismal shell, "preaching a baptism of repentance."
Excerpted from My Sunday Missal
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