4th Sunday of Advent: Year C

As we draw closer to the celebration of Christmas we come closer to the celebration of the birth of Jesus some 2000 years ago. However the entrance antiphon for this Sunday’s Mass has the Church sing as though that birth has never happened.

It has of course otherwise we would not be at Mass. But the antiphon does not name the one awaited as, simply, Jesus, but as Saviour. There is a strong sense running through all prayers and readings this Sunday of the continued need for Jesus as Saviour – to bring us to the glory of the Resurrection (Collect); to gather Israel and the nations into one (Micah); to help and protect us (Psalm); for our being made holy (Hebrews, even by the once and for all saving sacrifice of Jesus body); for our continuing to prepare for worthy celebration (Prayer after Communion).

Jesus came to us, and he continues to come to us. As we hear the Gospel of this Sunday we find ourselves in the situation of Elizabeth. And surely a question for us is have we allowed John the Baptist to recognise the Lord in our world and respond worthily and appropriately. We do not carry him in our womb as did Elizabeth, but his words have been directed to us most directly over previous Sundays.

So how do we welcome him? And how – like Mary – do we carry him to the world?

The Prayer over the Offerings rather provocatively considers the sanctification of the gifts on the altar as the Spirit’s filling with his power the womb of the Blessed Virgin. How might we imitate Mary going forward? Allowing the gift to flourish in us and bear fruit for others?


The readings and prayers for the 4th Sunday of Advent can be downloaded below.


The Introduction to the Lectionary (in yellow box below) provides a useful guide to the readings of Advent.

1. Advent

a) Sundays

93. Each gospel reading has a distinctive theme: the Lord’s coming at the end of time (First Sunday of Advent), John the Baptist (Second and Third Sunday), and the events that prepared immediately for the Lord’s birth (Fourth Sunday).

The Old Testament readings are prophecies about the Messiah and the Messianic age, especially from the Isaiah.

The readings from an apostle serve as exhortations and as proclamations, in keeping with the different themes of Advent.

b) Weekdays

94. There are two series of readings: one to be used from the beginning of Advent until 16 December; the other from 17 to 24 December.

In the first part of Advent there are readings from Isaiah, distributed in accord with the sequence of the book itself and including salient texts that are also read on the Sundays. For the choice of the weekday gospel the first reading has been taken into consideration.

On Thursday of the second week the readings from the gospel concerning John the Baptist begin. The first reading is either a continuation of Isaiah or a text chosen in view of the Gospel.

In the last week before Christmas the events that immediately prepared for the Lord’s birth are presented from Matthew (chapter 1) and Luke (chapter 1). The texts in the first reading, chosen in view of the Gospel reading, are from different Old Testament books and include important Messianic prophecies.

A more general guide to the season of Advent can be found at http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Calendar/Seasons/Advent.pdf

Text: (c) 2021, Allen Morris.

Image: (c) 2018, Allen Morris. The Visitation, Bordeaux – Musée d’Aquitaine.

3rd Sunday of Advent: Year C

This Sunday is a day of rejoicing for the Lord is near.

The vestments of the clergy may still be Advent purple but commonly are rose or pink this day. The colour is brightened by joy.

The Latin for the first word of the Entrance Antiphon ‘Gaudete/Rejoice’ gives us a common name for the Sunday: Gaudete Sunday.

The words of the Steeleye Span song Gaudete may anticipate the birth of Christ somewhat more than does the Liturgy of this Sunday – but it always comes to my mind this Sunday and gets the feet tapping.

For those who would like a setting of this Sunday’s antiphon, this setting by Purcell ‘Rejoice in the Lord alway’ offers delights too.

The focus of the Sunday readings shifts from consideration of the End Times and the Lord’s Second coming towards the coming of God in flesh. We are not yet hearing of the ‘Christmas story’, that is still to come, especially in the readings at weekday Mass from 17th December. The Gospel today tells of a time shortly before the baptism of Jesus (the feast of which event ends our celebration of Christmas): and it has John the Baptist speak of how we might prepare ourselves to meet the Lord.

He does not ask anything truly exceptional. Simply honesty and decency. We do not save ourselves, but we are asked to live justly.

The Prayer over the Offerings and the Prayer after Communion this Sunday highlight that we may have begun with such things but the flourishing of goodness and grace is still to come, through the Lord’s mercy. Good News is preached, but Good News needs to take flesh in us.

This saving work – God’s work since the beginning of time, the object of continued longing by the Jewish people, and now by Christians too – is  indeed God’s work. And so with Isaiah – his words are source of the Responsorial Psalm this Sunday – we can sing in joy and with confidence: “Truly, God is my salvation, / I trust, I shall not fear.”

The first reading exposes the passion of the God of Israel for his people. If we rejoice on this day, our joy will surely by outdone by the love of God for us.

St Paul – as so often – helps bring out the ecclesial and missionary dimension of all this. Our joy is not just for ourselves, this is no exclusive love-in between God and his people. Paul has care for those to whom he writes. Wee are to have care for others too – in our Church, in our world. And if the needs we see close at hand and far away are beyond our capacity to deal with, then we pray, with thanksgiving: confident that the Lord is near and, if we let him, he will bring everything to a good end.

The readings and Prayers for the 3rd Sunday of Advent can be downloaded below.


The Introduction to the Lectionary (in yellow box below) provides a useful guide to the readings of Advent.

1. Advent

a) Sundays

93. Each gospel reading has a distinctive theme: the Lord’s coming at the end of time (First Sunday of Advent), John the Baptist (Second and Third Sunday), and the events that prepared immediately for the Lord’s birth (Fourth Sunday).

The Old Testament readings are prophecies about the Messiah and the Messianic age, especially from the Isaiah.

The readings from an apostle serve as exhortations and as proclamations, in keeping with the different themes of Advent.

b) Weekdays

94. There are two series of readings: one to be used from the beginning of Advent until 16 December; the other from 17 to 24 December.

In the first part of Advent there are readings from Isaiah, distributed in accord with the sequence of the book itself and including salient texts that are also read on the Sundays. For the choice of the weekday gospel the first reading has been taken into consideration.

On Thursday of the second week the readings from the gospel concerning John the Baptist begin. The first reading is either a continuation of Isaiah or a text chosen in view of the Gospel.

In the last week before Christmas the events that immediately prepared for the Lord’s birth are presented from Matthew (chapter 1) and Luke (chapter 1). The texts in the first reading, chosen in view of the Gospel reading, are from different Old Testament books and include important Messianic prophecies.

A more general guide to the season of Advent can be found at http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Calendar/Seasons/Advent.pdf

2nd Sunday of Advent: Year C

The Introduction to the Lectionary (in yellow box below) provides a useful guide to the readings of Advent.

A brief summary of the readings and Presidential Prayers set for the 2nd Sunday follows below.

1. Advent

a) Sundays

93. Each gospel reading has a distinctive theme: the Lord’s coming at the end of time (First Sunday of Advent), John the Baptist (Second and Third Sunday), and the events that prepared immediately for the Lord’s birth (Fourth Sunday).

The Old Testament readings are prophecies about the Messiah and the Messianic age, especially from the Isaiah.

The readings from an apostle serve as exhortations and as proclamations, in keeping with the different themes of Advent.

b) Weekdays

94. There are two series of readings: one to be used from the beginning of Advent until 16 December; the other from 17 to 24 December.

In the first part of Advent there are readings from Isaiah, distributed in accord with the sequence of the book itself and including salient texts that are also read on the Sundays. For the choice of the weekday gospel the first reading has been taken into consideration.

On Thursday of the second week the readings from the gospel concerning John the Baptist begin. The first reading is either a continuation of Isaiah or a text chosen in view of the Gospel.

In the last week before Christmas the events that immediately prepared for the Lord’s birth are presented from Matthew (chapter 1) and Luke (chapter 1). The texts in the first reading, chosen in view of the Gospel reading, are from different Old Testament books and include important Messianic prophecies.

A more general guide to the season of Advent can be found at http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Calendar/Seasons/Advent.pdf


The Gospel of the 2nd Sunday of Advent introduces John the Baptist to our keeping of Advent. Christians may especially think of John in terms of his preparing the way for Jesus. This is not wrong, of course, but there is more to John’s proclamation.

His words echo the words of Isaiah which anticipated Israel’s return to the Promised Land from exile in Babylon. Like all the prophets before him, he calls Israel to a new reception of the Lord. And that reception of the Lord is about more than welcoming Jesus – it is about responding to Jesus, it is about being ready to change our world and our society in order to orient ourselves, fit ourselves for godly living.

St Paul in the second ready speaks about our preparation for the Day of Christ – a future day of Christ. It is our responsibility to prepare ourselves for what is still to come – not only ourselves as individuals but also each other, for fellow Christians and for our every neighbour.

Baruch speaks to a Jerusalem cloaked in sorrow and distress, lacking in integrity. We do not need to look far to see the sorrow, distress and lack of integrity that mars our present world. We need to receive the hope and promise of Baruch’s prophecy – assured that it is not just for Israel, but for all. The living God seeks to lead all creation by the light of his glory, sustaining us with his mercy.

The responsorial Psalm anticipates Jews and ‘heathens’ being united in praise of the Lord, and in wonder at his saving works.

Most people in our churches will be of ‘heathen’-stock. And some of us will not be used to be counted as, in at least some sense, second-class citizens. If we do not like it, we might reflect on what it must be like to have encounter that evaluation, or prejudice or discrimination, on a daily basis. Our discomfort may encourage us to try to do something about what more regularly and more gravely disadvantages some of our brothers and sisters.

The Collect speaks of that wisdom which might make us more ready and fit to be in the company of the Lord. What better wisdom can there be, than that which helps us to love others for who they are? What better wisdom is there than that which helps us ‘judge wisely the things of earth and hold firm to the things of heaven’ – as it is put in the post Communion prayer, this Sunday.

Photograph: (c) 2013, Allen Morris. Church of Nativity of John the Baptist, Ein Kerem, Israel

The first Sunday of Advent: Year C

The Introduction to the Lectionary provides the following useful guide to the readings of Advent

1. Advent

a) Sundays

93. Each gospel reading has a distinctive theme: the Lord’s coming at the end of time (First Sunday of Advent), John the Baptist (Second and Third Sunday), and the events that prepared immediately for the Lord’s birth (Fourth Sunday).

The Old Testament readings are prophecies about the Messiah and the Messianic age, especially from the Isaiah.

The readings from an apostle serve as exhortations and as proclamations, in keeping with the different themes of Advent.

b) Weekdays

94. There are two series of readings: one to be used from the beginning of Advent until 16 December; the other from 17 to 24 December.

In the first part of Advent there are readings from Isaiah, distributed in accord with the sequence of the book itself and including salient texts that are also read on the Sundays. For the choice of the weekday gospel the first reading has been taken into consideration.

On Thursday of the second week the readings from the gospel concerning John the Baptist begin. The first reading is either a continuation of Isaiah or a text chosen in view of the Gospel.

In the last week before Christmas the events that immediately prepared for the Lord’s birth are presented from Matthew (chapter 1) and Luke (chapter 1). The texts in the first reading, chosen in view of the Gospel reading, are from different Old Testament books and include important Messianic prophecies.

A more general guide to the season of Advent can be found at http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Calendar/Seasons/Advent.pdf


The readings of the first Sunday of Advent, then, turn us to the end times, to the end of earthly history, to the coming of the Lord in his second coming, and to the end of our lives.

There is warning for us in this, but also consolation. The first reading sets before us the prophesy of Jeremiah for the salvation of Judah and Israel. Christians see this salvation shared with us also through Jesus Christ.

At the same time we do not presume that we live faultless lives – and so in the psalm we again ask the Lord to help us, and to lead us in the ways of righteousness.

The second reading encourages us to make the most of the opportunities we have to progress in the godly life, and may remind us of the continued prayer of the Church in heaven for the Church on earth.

The Gospel reading, too, encourages us to take care, to draw on the help the Lord offers to us, so that we may have confidence to come before the Lord when he comes. The Gospel acclamation makes this point very clearly: ‘Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help

The Lord will come, of course, not only at the end of time, but in our celebration of the Mass – in the gathered assembly, in the priest, in the word proclaimed and the Sacrament of the Sacrifice offered and shared in as Holy Communion.

The concluding prayer of the Mass encourages us to find in these mysteries present help to embrace the good God is and that God invites us to.  

The Collect emphasises that we are not to be passive recipients of the grace of God, but urgent in our seeking for this help, and in our searching for the Lord himself.  

The antiphon proposed for singing during the distribution of Holy Communion anticipates fruitfulness not only in us but in the world. As we leave Mass, grateful for what we have received, we might consider what we have received that we might share for the benefit, and salvation, of others too.

Photograph: (c) 2018, Allen Morris. Mosaic at Westminster Cathedral.

Apologies.

I thought I had posted a note to alert to the (latest!) change of direction for the Living Eucharist Blog. But it seems I didn’t.

Over recent months there has been a daily posting of the Gospel of the Day and an image related to it. However the number of ‘hits’ was going down, and the time sourcing images, and preparing the page etc seemed to be going up.

The thought that it was time for a re-think of the value of what was being done, coincided with a couple of deanery workshops for lay ministers of the word and of Holy Communion. After some reflection it seemed more helpful to discontinue the daily postings and put effort instead into a resource that offers a weekly overview of the readings and prayers set for each Sunday. The posting of that resource began in readiness for the First Sunday of Advent, and the blog posting can be accessed here, and will continue.

The regular weekly posting on Living Eucharist will be accompanied – in the New Year – by occasional overviews of the Scriptural books being used in the Sunday Lectionary, especially the books read from semi-continuously as the Second Readings.

Gospel for November 11th

Luke 17:20-25

Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was to come, Jesus gave them this answer, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God does not admit of observation and there will be no one to say, “Look here! Look there!” For, you must know, the kingdom of God is among you.’

He said to the disciples, ‘A time will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man and will not see it. They will say to you, “Look there!” or, “Look here!” Make no move; do not set off in pursuit; for as the lightning flashing from one part of heaven lights up the other, so will be the Son of Man when his day comes. But first he must suffer grievously and be rejected by this generation.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph © Allen Morris, 2016. Stained Glass. Liverpool Cathedral.

Gospel for November 10th

Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered one of the villages, ten lepers came to meet him. They stood some way off and called to him, ‘Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.’ When he saw them he said, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ Now as they were going away they were cleansed. Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. This made Jesus say, ‘Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.’ And he said to the man, ‘Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph © Allen Morris, 2014. Healing of a leper. Cloister of Cathedral, Aix en Provence.

Gospel for November 9th

Feast of St John Lateran

John 2:13-22

Just before the Jewish Passover Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers sitting at their counters there. Making a whip out of some cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well, scattered the money changers’ coins, knocked their tables over and said to the pigeon-sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market.’ Then his disciples remembered the words of scripture: Zeal for your house will devour me. The Jews intervened and said, ‘What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?’ Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the words he had said.

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph © Allen Morris, 2020. Icon, Russia Museum, St Petersburg, Russia

Gospel for November 8th

Luke 17:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Obstacles are sure to come, but alas for the one who provides them! It would be better for him to be thrown into the Sea with a millstone put round his neck than that he should lead astray a single one of these little ones. Watch yourselves!

If your brother does something wrong, reprove him and, if he is sorry, forgive him.

And if he wrongs you seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says, “I am sorry,” you must forgive him.’

The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph © Allen Morris, 2008. Anglican Parish church, Lindisfarne.

Gospel for Sunday, November 7th

32nd Sunday in Ordinary time

Mark 12:38-44

In his teaching Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’

He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph © Allen Morris, 2016. Clerical fashion. Rome.