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Advent: December 20th

Fourth Sunday of Advent


December 20, 2020 (Readings on USCCB website)


O God, eternal majesty, whose ineffable Word the immaculate Virgin received through the message of an Angel and so became the dwelling-place of divinity, filled with the light of the Holy Spirit, grant, we pray, that by her example we may in humility hold fast to your will. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.


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"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."

Click here for commentary on the readings in the 1962 Missal of the Roman Rite.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent
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.

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:
Symbols: Crown and Scepter

Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.

O King of the Gentiles and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one; Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

The crown and scepter signify Christ's universal kingship. As we sing in the fifth O Antiphon, Christ is not only the King of the Jewish nation, but the "Desired One of all," the cornerstone which unites both Jew and Gentile.

Recommended Readings: Apocalypse 15:1-4

Today is Day Five of the Christmas Novena.

Commentary for the Readings in the 1962 Roman Missal:
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