Gospel reading for Mass on 27th December

Luke 2:22-40

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,

just as you promised;

because my eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared for all the nations to see,

a light to enlighten the pagans

and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

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: (c) 2014, Allen Morris. Musée national du Moyen Âge, formerly Musée de Cluny

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Gospel reading for the 4th Sunday of Advent

The Gospel this Sunday gives account to the Lord’s taking flesh in/of the Virgin Mary.

For 9 months Mary will carry our Saviour in her womb, cherishing the life, nourishing him from her body.

But Mary is more than simply the place of conception, and mother to the baby – worthy enough as those roles are. She is also a model for discipleship, a model of living in response to God’s love and faithfulness, and witness to other of that glory.

We see aspects of that in her response to Gabriel, and her willingness to serve in the way that she confirms to the angel.

It is maybe even better witnessed to in the Mystery of the Visitation – an account of which follows in Luke’s Gospel after this Sunday’s reading. There Mary evidences love of God and love of neighbour – and gives to us a song that the Church sings to this day in her evening prayer.

One fine way of spending in time in prayer in these coming days before Christmas is to pray the Rosary. Some help is available here for those who are not familiar with the prayer, or would like a fresh approach.


Living Eucharist – in its usual form – is taking a holiday from today until the weekend of the 2nd/3rd January. Between now and then, each day, there will simply be a posting of the Gospel of the day.

Have a happy Christmas when it comes and may the Christmas season fill you with hope and confidence as we enter 2021.


Luke 1:26-38
Gospel reading for the 4th Sunday of Advent

 (NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

Birth of Jesus Foretold

1.26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47  and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48  for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49  for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50  And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51  He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52  he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53  he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54  He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55  as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

 
 
Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2016, Allen Morris. Stained glass, Slipper Chapel, Walsingham.

Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

At Mass on Christmas Day we may hear part of the prologue of John’s Gospel. This Sunday we hear the other part. On Christmas Day the reading speaks of the Incarnation: this Sunday’s Gospel speaks of John and his witness to the Christ who comes to us.

The Prologue is followed by stories of people meeting with Jesus and choosing to follow him and become disciples.

But today the focus is on John the Baptist as witness to Christ, and as a model of humility for others to follow.

  • What most impresses you about John?
  • What witness to Jesus do you yourself give?


John 1:6-8,19-28
Gospel reading for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

The Word Became Flesh
1.1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

The Testimony of John the Baptist
19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.


Behold, the Lamb of God
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Jesus Calls the First Disciples
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”


 Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2019, Allen Morris. Toulouse, Musee Des Augustins 2018

Responsorial Psalm for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

The Church’s song in this Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word is Mary’s song, the Magnificat, sung in response to Elizabeth’s greeting, and recognition of the presence of the Lord Jesus in his mother’s womb.

In Advent we wait for what is to come: Mary, in her song, gives thanks for what has been and what presently is.

May her prayer and her example nudge us in that same direction too.

Luke 1:46-50, 53-54
Responsorial Psalm for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

Canticle of Mary (Magnificat)

46 My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 For he has looked upon his handmaid in her lowliness;
for behold, from this day forward,
all generations will call me blessed.

49 For the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is from age to age
for those who fear him.

51 He has made known the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit of heart.  
52 He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has exalted those who are lowly.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
and has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
mindful of his mercy,

55 Even as he promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his descendants for ever.


Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Psalm: From Abbey Psalms and Canticles, prepared by the monks of Conception Abbey © 2008, 2010 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2014, Allen Morris. Carving, Cloister, St Trophime, Arles, France.


 

First reading for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

Back in the 1970s a compilation movie called That’s Entertainment, made up of extracts from MGM musical films, was launched under the tag-line: “Boy, do we need it now”.

For some reason the tag-line lodged in my memory.

As we come to the end of this first year of the global pandemic – with all sorts of hopes that now the worst may be behind us, but with little certainty yet that this will be the case – boy, do we need something to lift our spirits now.

Isaiah does not offer us ‘entertainment’ to lift the spirits, but hope, a fresh testimony to God’s goodness, and a reminder that we are not to be passive recipients of this goodness, but to be active witnesses to it, and ministers of it.

In this lies our joy and our liberation.

Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11
First reading for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

The Year of the Lord’s Favour

61.1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2  to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;

3  to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
4  They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

5  Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
foreigners shall be your ploughmen and vinedressers;
6  but you shall be called the priests of the LORD;
they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
and in their glory you shall boast.
7  Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonour they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.

8  For I the LORD love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9  Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed.

10  I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11  For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.




Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2018, Allen Morris St Pierre de Montmartre, Paris
 

Collect for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

The Collect seems to assure God that his people “faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity”.

The phrase got me wondering, what does it mean, ‘faithfully to await’ the feast of the Lord’s Nativity?

Simply to have faith, and to wait?

Or something more? Is it in faith to know a waiting that is existential; that is grounded in a sense of our unpreparedness (despite faith, and with longing for things to be different) and confronts us with our unreadiness, and so our need for what God can do to help us up and on?

An active, engaged waiting? To help us up and on, not just to the feast of Christmas, not even to a celebration of God born in human flesh – but to a fresh awareness, appreciation, appropriation, of why that birth matters.

And that birth matters, because it is a part of the great saving work of God begun with the incarnation and birth, brought to fresh focus in the Paschal Mystery in the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, and manifest now – please God – in our keeping of Advent, waiting and working inspired by the closeness of the Kingdom of God, even to us.

Collect for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

O God, who see how your people
faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,
enable us, we pray,
to attain the joys of so great a salvation
and to celebrate them always
with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

 
Acknowledgements

~ Translation of the Collect: English translation of The Roman Missal ©  2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2014, Allen Morris. Palais des Papes, Avignon.

Second reading for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

St Peter calls the Church to be ready to receive, welcome, and benefit from the coming of the Lord at the end of time – at the beginning of God’s new time and new Creation.

As well as this second coming at the end of time, Christians from the beginning have also been conscious of the opportunities to welcome the Lord afresh into their lives in the present moment to – to welcome him by being alert to the potential to live lovingly now, and also to the sad lapse that leads us to lack of charity and to blindness to the Lord’s real presence to us in the here and now.

2 Peter 3:8-14
Second reading for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

The Day of the Lord Will Come
3.1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Final Words
14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.


 
Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2017, Allen Morris. Stained glass, St Nicholas church, Henley-in -Arden, Warwickshire.

First reading for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

The words in which a broken Israel found inspiration, and which continue to offer spiritual succour to our Jewish contemporaries, offer consolation and encouragement to Christians too.

The one God, the same God, speaks to each of our communities, acknowledging our past struggles, hurts and humiliations, and assuring us that God – the one God, the same God – calls us to closer union with him.

And a renewed Jerusalem is for Jews and Christians, symbol of this longed for closer union between God and an aching people. The image lies behind this Sunday’s second reading as well as being to the fore in the first reading below.

For Christians the further symbol of this closer union is, of course, Jesus himself, very God present in one who is also fully human.

The chapter of Isaiah that speaks of the tenderness of God for his people, as we hear in this Sunday’s reading, goes on to say how foolish humans are when they try to represent God in idols. How foolish indeed when God shows us his fullest image in one like us, in all things but sin.

And in Jesus, this fullest image of God, faithful son of Israel, the promises of God are extended to all humankind. This Advent may we eagerly accept and use his gracious gifts.

Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11
First reading for the 2nd Sunday of Advent 

 (NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

Comfort for God’s People
40.1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
3  A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4  Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5  And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The Word of God Stands Forever
6  A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7  The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8  The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

The Greatness of God
9  Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
10  Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11  He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

12  Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
13  Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,
or what man shows him his counsel?
14  Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
15  Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
16  Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
17  All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

18  To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
19  An idol! A craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains.
20  He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
to set up an idol that will not move.
21  Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22  It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23  who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
24  Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25  To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26  Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might
and because he is strong in power,
not one is missing.

27  Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28  Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29  He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30  Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31  but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2007, Allen Morris. Desert hills between Jehrico and Jerusalem

Collect for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

Wisdom comes for us all in many forms, but most fully, most perfectly as God’s living Word, Jesus Christ himself.

There are many opportunities for us to engage with God’s Wisdom, but none has the power or effect of spending time with Jesus himself, in Word, in Holy Communion – in the Eucharist and in the communion of the Church.

The Gospels have a privileged role in strengthening this communion.

  • During the Church that begins this Advent it will be the Gospel of Mark that we hear most regularly on Sundays.
  • Why not reacquaint yourself with the Gospel as a whole? To read the work as a whole gives us a richer understanding of Jesus and his work, and his meaning for us and our lives, than we get from isolated passages.
  • This Sunday’s Gospel reading at Mass is the first verses of Mark’s Gospel. Start there, and just keep reading!

Collect for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

Almighty and merciful God,
may no earthly undertaking hinder those
who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


 
Acknowledgements

~ Translation of the Collect: English translation of The Roman Missal ©  2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2015, Allen Morris. Cover for Book of Scriptures, Treasury, The Kremlin, Moscow.

First reading for the first Sunday of Advent

The prophet helps Israel and the Church know its place before the Lord.  
 
We are clay and he is the potter. He is one fine potter, but in us he does not seem to have the most promising material to work with.
 
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
 
And yet God is the potter and in his hands there is hope for the raw clay. We can become, – and when we look around, we see how of us some do become – something beautiful through God’s handiwork.

Advent is a season of hope, a season when once more the promises of the Lord warm our hearts and lives back to life….

Isaiah 63:16-17,64:1,3-8
First reading for the 1st Sunday of Advent  

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted) 

Prayer for Mercy
63.15  Look down from heaven and see,
from your holy and beautiful habitation.
Where are your zeal and your might?
The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion
are held back from me.

16  For you are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us,
and Israel does not acknowledge us;
you, O LORD, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
17  O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways
and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.

18  Your holy people held possession for a little while;
our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary.
19  We have become like those over whom you have never ruled,
like those who are not called by your name.

64.1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—

2  as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!

3  When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
 
4  From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
5  You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
6  We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7  There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
 
8
 But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

9  Be not so terribly angry, O LORD,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
10  Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
11  Our holy and beautiful house,
where our fathers praised you,
has been burned by fire,
and all our pleasant places have become ruins.
12  Will you restrain yourself at these things, O LORD?
Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2017, Allen Morris. Gladstone Pottery Museum