The Lighting of the fourth candle
The two purple candles, plus the pink candle are lit before the Prayer starts.
Leader: As the birth of a child draws near, attention focuses on the mother. Since we are nearing the celebration of the birth of Christ, it is no surprise to find that Mary is at the Centre of today’s Gospel. Mary’s only concern was to do the will of God. She will help us to do it also……
- Lord Jesus, you free us from fear, and guide our feet into the way of peace. LORD HAVE MERCY. ALL: LORD HAVE MERCY.
- Lord Jesus, you enable us to serve God in holiness and justice all the days of our lives. CHRIST HAVE MERCY. ALL: CHRIST HAVE MERCY.
- Lord Jesus, you give light to us when we walk in darkness and in the shadow of death. LORD HAVE MERCY.ALL:LORD HAVE MERCY.
The 4th Candle is now lit AND WE PRAY TOGETHER: Christ be our light shine in our hearts shine through the darkness, Christ be our light shine in your church gathered today.
LEADER: Stir up your power O Lord, and with great might, come among us; may your loving kindness and mercy speedily help and deliver us. We ask this through Christ Our Lord.
WATCH! PREPARE A WAY FOR THE LORD!
Welcome to the 4th Sunday of Advent . The word “Advent” means “coming” and starts with a message similar to the theme of last week’s Mass. Be ready and watch for the coming of Jesus. However, it means a little more than just coming; it conveys to us an expectancy within the person waiting. This can be understood in three ways.
First, we anticipate Christ’s advent on Christmas. We go beyond the materialism of the modern world by a focus on the real meaning of the feast: God enters human existence in a totally personal way.
Second, we look forward to Jesus’ arrival in our lives through the blossoming of our faith and the insight we have as pure ‘gift’ to see God’s saving work at hand in Christ within His Word, Sacrament and Community. Thus in a mystical way we bring his body into the world through our union with him also in the communion of saints.
Finally, we speculate on the end of this universe at the conclusion of time. The universe is not self-sustaining. Eventually it will terminate in some sort of extinction. Time is finite. It will reach a culmination either in a vast cataclysm or total dissolution. Then the real universe will begin in God.
So, welcome to Year B! During Advent and Lent, the three Readings in the Liturgy of the Word are linked….see if you can see and hear the links!
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in our being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link.
First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5. 8-12. 14. 16
Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest from all the enemies surrounding him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘Look, I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go and do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.’
But that very night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:
‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. I will be a father to him and he a son to me. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon the first reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word.)
Psalm: Ps 88:2-5. 27. 29
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord;
through all ages my mouth will proclaim your truth.
Of this I am sure, that your love lasts for ever,
that your truth is firmly established as the heavens. R.
‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
I will establish your dynasty for ever
and set up your throne through all ages.’ R.
He will say to me: ‘You are my father,
my God, the rock who saves me.’
I will keep my love for him always;
for him my covenant shall endure. R.
Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27
Glory to him who is able to give you the strength to live according to the Good News I preach, and in which I proclaim Jesus Christ, the revelation of a mystery kept secret for endless ages, but now so clear that it must be broadcast to pagans everywhere to bring them to the obedience of faith. This is only what scripture has predicted, and it is all part of the way the eternal God wants things to be. He alone is wisdom; give glory therefore to him through Jesus Christ for ever and ever. Amen.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
PAUSE again after this Reading and reflect like you did after the first Reading. The Community response is the sung ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday! We never say it… 🙂
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Reflection time again……. see if you can hear the links, and see the bridges between the three Readings. After that, we are then ready for what is to follow…..
DEEP SEA DIVING INTO THE SCRIPTURES
Focusing the Word
Key words and phrases
Rejoice, so highly favoured!
The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.
His reign will have no end.
The child will be holy and will be called Son of God.
For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
to the point
The Scriptures this Sunday speak with one voice of the relentless action of God on our behalf: God adopts David’s descendants as his children forever (first reading), God reveals the secret mystery of salvation (second reading), and God gives the mystery flesh in Christ (gospel). Our living of the Christmas mystery is a continuing participation in this relentless action of God.
Connecting the Word
to Advent and salvation history
God’s saving action neither begins nor ends with Christ or Christmas. Nor is our understanding of this action to be contained by the weeks of Advent and the celebration of Christmas. Salvation history is ongoing and demands ongoing contemplation on our part.
to Christian experience
Advent is both waiting and preparing. Waiting focuses on what God does; preparing focuses on what we do. These divine and human activities come together in Christ.
Understanding the Word
Promises to David fulfilled in Jesus
Gabriel’s message to Mary paraphrases Nathan’s words to David in the first reading. Among the elements of Nathan’s divine promise and its fulfilment in Christ are these: (a) David’s heirs will be like the great ones of the earth (2 Sam 7:9) = ‘he will be great’ (Luke 1:32); (b) ‘he shall be a son to me’ (7:14) = Jesus is son of the Most High (1:32) and son of God (1:35); (c) ‘your throne shall stand firm forever’ (7:16) = God ‘will give him the throne of David his father . . . and he will rule . . . forever’ (1:32-33). The parallelism is reinforced by the announcement that Joseph is ‘of the house of David’ (1:27) and by the identical words of the messenger in each story, ‘the Lord is with you’ (2 Sam 7:3; Luke 1:28).
As spoken by Nathan, the promises God made to David were to be fulfilled in each new generation: thus, David’s house, kingdom, and throne will endure ‘forever’ (7:16). This probably meant ‘for a very long time,’ just as we might say, ‘I waited in line forever.’ Indeed, these promises provided stability to the Kingdom of Judah for a very long time – over 400 years. This seemed to confirm that ‘forever’ really meant ‘forever.’ But the kingship came to an end in the Babylonian exile (598–539 b.c.) and by this late date in Israel’s history the word of God spoken by the prophets of old came to be understood as timeless, and not merely addressed to people of a particular time and place. Naturally, then, when this ‘eternal’ kingship came to an end questions about the reliability of God’s word arose. Israel put faith in God’s word despite all historical appearances to the contrary and came to see the promises of God as something yet to be fulfilled when the House of David would once again establish the royal throne forever. In this way historical promises became eschatological hope and a merely historical kingship became an eternal kingship fulfilled, not by many sons of David, but by the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
A realhomilie from Fr.Kev
Dear One and All,
Today’s Gospel sets the scene for the birth of Jesus. Mary was betrothed to Joseph. In the meantime, the angel had appeared to Mary, and announced the amazing news! After feeling disturbed by this news, and encouraged by the Angel she ‘YES’ to God. Mary was wrapped in mystery; in something she humbly accepted as being from God, and something she could not totally understand. Her role, the role of the humble servant, was to obey, and leave it to God to take care of the details. I think that it is important at this stage for us to unravel the true meaning of obedience as seen in Sacred Scripture. Obedience comes from the Latin word obedientia, which, literally means, “ To listen, attend” or in a more picturesque way of explanation: “to hold one’s ear against”, like that of a Doctor listening to a patient’s heartbeat through a stethoscope. This kind of listening is often attributed to that of a Prophet. It is listening with the whole body and mind, when one really wants to know what to do, or what road to take. It is also an attention to the inner stirrings of the Holy Spirit within the Temple of our being…within that stillness we can gaze attentively on the signs and words of God addressed to us…not so much our words to God, but God’s words to us: “ Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” (1Samuel 3:9)
Let us get closer to the great mystery that Mary was faced with….’ Do not be afraid’ the Angel said, “ you have won God’s favour.’ Mary knew her place before God; she belonged to a group of people known as ‘the poor of the Lord God’ or ‘ the faithful few’ who longed to see God’s saving hand rescuing His people once again, like the days of old in Egypt and Babylon. Mary embodied true humility before God, and she nurtured that extraordinary gift of spiritual poverty, which moved her to thirst and hunger for God. Here we see the fundamental ingredients for real Scriptural listening. Let’s have a look at the meaning of Mary and Elizabeth’s name. The name of Mary in Hebrew is called Miriam, its origin seems to be Egyptian meaning “beloved”. Now Elizabeth’s name in Hebrew is eliseba, meaning El(God) is fullness…in Biblical Hebrew, El can be prefix or suffix meaning God. For example, Gabriel, means God is strong. We can never underestimate how important names are in Scripture.
Now let’s turn to Mary’s & Elizabeth’s poverty of spirit and humility, as lived in their lives, it is a very desirable characteristic for us to aspire to. However, its opposite often blurs our vision and desire, in acquiring such a vital spiritual quality.
The opposite of poverty of spirit and humility, is pride! This can be so destructive to self and others, and its expressions are obnoxious: arrogance, haughtiness, aloofness, disdain, sarcasm, negativity etc. In the case of Mary and Joseph, they did not actually do anything. They said their YES, and left the doing to God. Here we can also see the ‘flip side’ and implication of their YES… namely not wanting or desiring to be in control of the present or the future. Their poverty of spirit enabled them to be free and open to the surprises that God had in store for them.
As we are virtually on the ‘Eve’ of Christmas, perhaps our desire could well be the renewed development of our personal and community obedience to God, and thus be tuned to His nourishing Word through our poverty of spirit. ‘God’s greatest gifts fall into the hearts that are empty of self’. (St.John of the Cross)
God Bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer.
OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………
This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. You might like to create your own Advent Wreath…very simple, for ideas please check out the Posting November 21. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. Someone in the family might like to be the leader, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…
Leader: Comforted by the promise that you care for us as a shepherd cares for his flock, we bring these needs to you with great trust.
- For all those in leadership positions in our Church, in Rome, in our diocese, and in our parish, that they may be guided by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we pray to the Lord: Come, Lord Jesus!
- For all who work in various governmental offices at every level, that they be true servants of the people who need their expertise and help in their daily lives, we pray to the Lord: Come, Lord Jesus!
- For all those who need consolation in their lives, because of the loss of a loved one or financial insecurity or fragile physical or emotional health, we pray to the Lord: Come, Lord Jesus!
- For all the homebound and hospitalised of our parish and for all those who care for them, that they may know joy in their lives, we pray to the Lord: Come, Lord Jesus!
- As our new week begins, let’s look back to last week. Did we see events and situations in our world which invite prayer from us? If so, would anyone like to share a prayer……..?
- Let’s gather all our prayers spoken and shared and those that are deep within our hearts as we pray the great Prayer of the Church…….Our Father…
Leader: O God, comforter of all your people, make us ever aware that we have been baptised in the Holy Spirit and redeemed in the blood of your Son, Jesus, who lives and loves forever and ever. Amen.
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
1. The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
2. The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
3. The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
4. The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
5. The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
6. The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
7. The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
8. The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.