December 23rd

Late Advent Weekday — December 23
Malachi 3:1-4,23-24  +  Luke 1:57-66
December 23, 2016

“…he spoke blessing God.”

In these last weekdays before Christmastide, our Gospel passages focus not on the Holy Family, but on Elizabeth, Zechariah and John the Baptist.  These passages come from St. Luke’s account of the Gospel.  It’s striking how much attention Luke shows to the events surrounding the birth of John, and how many parallels to and contrasts with the stories of Jesus’ birth that Luke makes. Continue reading

December 22nd

Late Advent Weekday — December 22
I Samuel 1:24-28  +  Luke 1:46-56
December 22, 2016

“‘From this day all generations will call me blessed:  the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.’”

From the day of the Visitation, all generations of Christians have called Mary “blessed”.  Unfortunately, the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary is used by some to divide members of the Body of Christ against each other.  But we cannot fruitfully reflect on the mystery of Christmas without reflecting on the person of Mary, her blessedness, her maternity, and the One who is her Lord and ours. Continue reading

December 21st

Late Advent Weekday — December 21
Song of Songs 2:8-14  +  Luke 1:39-45
December 21, 2016

“‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’”

Today our Scriptures present responses to the coming of the Lord.  Both are worthy of our reflection and imitation, although they are very different from each other. Continue reading

December 20th

Late Advent Weekday — December 20
Isaiah 7:10-14  +  Luke 1:26-38
December 20, 2016

“‘May it be done to me according to your word.’”

Of all the contrasts between Zechariah and Mary in St. Luke’s infancy narratives, the starkest is found in their responses to the good news announced to each.  What makes Mary’s response to St. Gabriel even more striking is that objectively, the message entrusted to her was much more difficult to understand from an “earthly perspective”.  After all, what Gabriel announced to Zechariah was news which he and his wife had been longing to hear for many years.  While the facts foretold by Gabriel were unlikely from a human standpoint, they were not impossible even by human standards, and had precedent in biblical history. Continue reading

December 19th

Late Advent Weekday — December 19
Judges 13:2-7,24-25  +  Luke 1:5-25
December 19, 2016

“He was gesturing to them but remained mute.”

During the last eight days of Advent, which are usually called the “Late Advent weekdays”, the Gospel heard at weekday Masses shifts to the infancy narratives.  It might surprise some that not all four Gospel accounts tell us about the infancy of Jesus.  Only Matthew and Luke do.  In his prologue (John 1:1-18), John one-ups those two evangelists by accounting for the life of God the Son from all eternity in brief and brilliant poetry.  Mark begins his Gospel account (the shortest of the four) with Jesus already an adult. Continue reading

The 4th Sunday of Advent

The Fourth Sunday of Advent [A]
Isaiah 7:10-14  +  Romans 1:1-7  +  Matthew 1:18-24
December 18, 2016

“… behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream….”

Saint Joseph has a lot to teach us, if we only watch him.  The reason we have to watch him is because in the whole of the Bible, not one word that Saint Joseph ever spoke is recorded.  He’s not just a man of few words:  according to the Gospels, he’s a man of no words.  We are never told anything that he ever said to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the Christ Child, or even—in the case of today’s Gospel passage—to the angel that appeared to him. Continue reading

December 17th

Late Advent Weekday — December 17
Genesis 49:2,8-10  +  Matthew 1:1-17
December 17, 2016

“…Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.”

“Late Advent Weekday” is the term that describes the last eight days of Advent, beginning on December 17.  The Sacred Liturgy—from the Divine Office to Holy Mass—shifts slightly in tone as the Church’s preparation for the Messiah intensifies. Continue reading

Fri. 3rd Week of Advent

Friday of the Third Week of Advent
Isaiah 56:1-3,6-8  +  John 5:33-36
December 16, 2016

“‘John was a burning and shining lamp….’”

As the first half of Advent concludes, Jesus fittingly speaks to the Church’s transition to Advent’s latter half in today’s Gospel passage.  He speaks to the relationship of John the Baptist to Himself. Continue reading

Thurs. 3rd Week of Advent

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
Isaiah 54:1-10  +  Luke 7:24-30
December 15, 2106

“‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you….’”

St. Luke the Evangelist ends today’s Gospel passage ends with a long parenthetical statement.  The contrast he makes there frames not only today’s passage, but the whole of Advent. Continue reading