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Advent: December 24th

Fourth Sunday of Advent; Christmas Eve


December 24, 2017 (Readings on USCCB website)


Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


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Old Calendar: Fourth Sunday of Advent

"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

This year Advent is very short, Sunday being the only day in the fourth week. In the General Roman Calendar, today is the last day of Advent, Christmas Eve, and also (beginning with the vigil Mass) is the first day of Christmas time. The liturgical texts express wholehearted confidence in the imminent coming of the Redeemer. There is much joyous expectation. Most families have their own observances, customs that should be preserved from generation to generation. Today is the last day of our Christmas Novena.

Click here for commentary on the readings in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Sunday Readings
The first reading is taken from 2 Samuel 7:1-5; 8-11;16 and refers to when David was anointed king in Hebron by all the tribes of Israel and Judah and his first step was to capture Jerusalem from the Jebusites and make it the political capital of his kingdom.

The second reading is from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 26:25-27 where he introduces himself to the Christians in Rome and he gives an incomplete synthesis of his theology. His words remind us to give glory to God this Christmas and always, for the marvelous things he has done for us.

The Gospel is from Luke 1:26-38. At the moment our Lady said : "be it done to me according to thy word" the most stupendous event that ever happened, or ever could happen on earth, took place on this planet of ours. The Son of God took on human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. We are familiar with this story from childhood. We often say the Angelus in which this tremendous act of God's love is described. Although familiarity in this case does not breed contempt, it does help to blunt the real impact on our minds of such an extraordinary occurrence. If God had created a very special child, and made him into an outstanding saint, so that he could intercede with God for us, this would be a great act of love for us on God's part. Or, if he had sent an angel from heaven in human form, to teach us all about God and to help us to lead holy lives, this would deserve our deepest gratitude. But neither a saintly man, nor a holy angel could do for us all that God wanted. No man or angel could make us adopted sons of God and heirs of heaven. It was necessary, in God's plan for us, that his divine Son should become man, should share our humanity, so that we could share his divinity.

Could infinite love have gone any further? Our creation, the fact that we exist as human beings on earth, is a great gift to us on the part of God. Of what value could eighty, a hundred, even seven hundred years of a continuously happy life on this earth be for us if we learned that we had to depart life forever one day? In a world tormented by sin and its evil effects our normal span of life would be less satisfying. However, when God created us, he so planned that our stay here would be but a stage, a stepping stone in fact, toward our everlasting home. We are well aware indeed of the lengths to which God's love has gone in order to make us his children and heirs to his kingdom. Are we, however, grateful to him for the love he has shown us? Are we honestly and sincerely trying to make ourselves worthy of the great future he has in store for us?

Today is a suitable occasion to look right into our hearts, to see how we stand with God. During the week we shall be keeping the feast of Christmas. The Baby in the manger will remind us of what God has done and is still doing for us. What are we doing in return? Have we shown our gratitude by living as true followers of Christ? If most of us must answer : "no," this is the time to change our course and return to the right road once more. God is asking this of us today. Shall our answer be : "behold here I am Lord, your humble and grateful servant, let it be done to me according to your word"?

Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.

Today is Day Nine 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, Confraternity of the Precious Blood