Sunday Scripture Readings Discussion - 12/11/05

Here are some links for this Sunday’s readings. If anybody has any additional links we would appreciate it if you post them. Thank you! Everybody is invited to participate in a discussion re: these readings.

usccb.org/nab/index.htm
members.cox.net/fidelis927/
dailygospel.org/

Gospel Reading

n 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,

so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “ am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,’
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

The account in Matthew provides additional insight. I was browsing through Matthew Henry’s commentary on it. What a treasure trove of insight.

MH points out that John was the greatest prophet since Malachai. He was preaching in the wilderness, which represents teaching among the gentiles.

He was practicing baptism in flowing or “living” water, as opposed to the stagnant pools that visitors to the Temple used (micvahs?). In Mt’s account, John called the Scribes and Pharisees “vipers” which is a reference to the serpent in Genesis. The explanation of their motives is clearer here than in Mt.

In Mt’s account, Jesus is baptized and immediately comes out of the water. This is in sharp contrast to the usual practice of people to spend time recounting their sins and “washing” them away. Jesus of course is innocent of sin.

In the Passover week context,the high priest would select an animal and imput his sins and the sins of the people to the animal before sacrifice. Another animal was released into the wilderness to be ravaged by the wild animals.

Here, Jesus is called out as the Lamb of God to whom sins are imputed and who takes away the sins of the world. And, Jesus is led into the desert by the Spirit, to me, as a sign of his readiness to die.Jesus does not go on to the Temple, as other visitors to Jerusalem would naturally do. He is the living Temple and he takes his place in the wilderness, where even there God can be found. He speaks to his Father from the wilderness, a sure sign that God hears our prayers, wherever we may be.

As always, we see that the best approach to God is from an attitude of heartfelt repentance (turning from sin).

Why must Jesus be baptized? The water reminds us of the flood of Noah’s time, in which water was used to deal out God’s vengeance for the sins of the people. So, in his baptism, Jesus takes that sign of condemnation upon himself. (Baptism by total immersion reminds us of the death of men in the flood.) And, he says it must be so.

Since this week’s Gospel reading is so similar to last weeks (from Mark 1:1-8), it may be tempting to tune it out as redundant. The beauty of the Scriptures is, that in the four gospels, there are important variations even in (seemingly) parallel passages.

For example, in this Sunday’s Gospel, we see the curiosity and hostility of the religious authorities. They can’t figure John, a mere man, out; what will they make of Jesus, the Messiah?

A couple of points I recently learned regarding John.

Notice he is preaching on the Bethany side of the river Jordan, so the Jews from Jerusalem have to cross over the Jordan to John, be baptized and then cross the Jordan again to enter the Promised Land. This signifies a new exodus to the Jews.

The River Jordan means “descending one” (I think, but I know that’s close). How poetic that the Spirit descends on Jesus here.

John was a Nazerite priest. This is revealed by Gabriel to Zechariah, when he says that no alcohol shall pass his lips. Nazerites were also known to shun society. They also did not cut their hair - yes, Samson was supposed to be a Nazerite Priest as well.

I find it odd that John denies being Elijah. Wasn’t it prophecied that Elijah would return to prepare the way of the Messiah? John obviously emulates Elijah in so many ways - in dress and such. And Jesus referred to John as the new Elijah. Maybe someone can clarify this?

Notworthy

John’s profound humility would have prevented him for claiming that title, even if true. Also, while John wasn’t literally a re-incarnation of Elijah, he was, as the Haydock Commentary points out, Elijah in office (as a prophet) and Spirit, as is alluded to in Luke 1:17.

As was mentioned earlier, Jesus was baptized prior to going into the wilderness to fast and pray. This reminds us that our baptism gives us the desire to pray and the fortitude to fast and resist temptation.

Brothers and Sisters - These are the readings from the Old Lectionary for the Third Sunday in Advent, also called Rose Sunday:

The Collects:

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who by Thy first coming didst send Thy messenger to prepare Thy way before Thee, Grant that the ministers and stewards of They mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready Thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at Thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in Thy sight, Who livest and reignest with The Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. :amen:

Almighty God, Give us grace that we cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in that time of this mortal life, in which Thy Son, JESUS Christ came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when He shall come again in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal; through Him Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. :amen:

The Prophetic Lesson is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah:

(Isaish 26:4-11) *“Trust in the LORD for ever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. For he has brought low the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city. He lays it low, lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust. The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy.”

The way of the righteous is level; thou dost make smooth the path of the righteous. In the path of thy judgments, O LORD, we wait for thee; thy memorial name is the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for thee in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks thee. For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals perversely and does not see the majesty of the LORD.

O LORD, thy hand is lifted up, but they see it not. Let them see thy zeal for thy people, and be ashamed. Let the fire for thy adversaries consume them. Isaish 26:4-11 RSV*

The Epistle is taken from the 1st Letter of Paul to the Corinthians:

(I Cor. 4:1-5) This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God. I Cor. 4:1-5 RSV

The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew:

(Matt. 11:2-10) *Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings’ houses. Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, `Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’ Matt. 11:2-10 RSV*

The Blessing:

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no man evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all men; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the blessing of God Almighty, :blessyou: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon you and remain with you now and forever. :amen:

In Christ, Michael

Brothers and Sisters - This is the extra reading for the Third Sunday in Advent, also called Rose Sunday:

The Collect:

Almighty God, Give us grace that we cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in that time of this mortal life, in which Thy Son, JESUS Christ came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when He shall come again in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal; through Him Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. :amen:

(Isaiah 40:1-9) *Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 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.

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 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. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

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. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.

Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:1-9 RSV*

The Blessing:

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no man evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all men; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the blessing of God Almighty, :blessyou: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon you and remain with you now and forever. :amen:

In Christ, Michael

Here is the Navarre Bible Commentary on this Sunday’s Gospel:

Commentary:

26-38. Here we contemplate our Lady who was “enriched from the first
instant of her conception with the splendor of an entirely unique
holiness; …] the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding
angel, by divine command, as full of grace' (cf. Luke 1:28), and to the heavenly messenger she replies,Behold the handmaid of the Lord,
be it done unto me according to thy word’ (Luke 1:38). Thus the
daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the
Mother of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly to God’s saving
will and impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid
of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with Him,
serving the mystery of Redemption, by the grace of Almighty God.
Rightly, therefore, the Fathers (of the Church) see Mary not merely as
passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of
man’s salvation through faith and obedience” (Vatican II, “Lumen
Gentium”, 56).

The annunciation to Mary and incarnation of the Word constitute the
deepest mystery of the relationship between God and men and the most
important event in the history of mankind: God becomes man, and will
remain so forever, such is the extent of His goodness and mercy and
love for all of us. And yet on the day when the Second Person of the
Blessed Trinity assumed frail human nature in the pure womb of the
Blessed Virgin, it all happened quietly, without fanfare of any kind.

St. Luke tells the story in a very simple way. We should treasure
these words of the Gospel and use them often, for example, practising
the Christian custom of saying the Angelus every day and reflecting on
the five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

(continued)

  1. God chose to be born of a virgin; centuries earlier He disclosed
    this through the prophet Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22-23). God,
    “before all ages made choice of, and set in her proper place, a mother
    for His only-begotten Son from whom He, after being made flesh, should
    be born in the blessed fullness of time: and He continued His
    persevering regard for her in preference to all other creatures, to
    such a degree that for her alone He had singular regard” (Pius IX,
    “Ineffabilis Deus,” 2). This privilege granted to our Lady of being a
    virgin and a mother at the same time is a unique gift of God. This was
    the work of the Holy Spirit “who at the conception and the birth of
    the Son so favored the Virgin Mother as to impart fruitfulness to her
    while preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity” (“St. Pius V
    Catechism,” I, 4, 8). Paul VI reminds us of this truth of faith: “We
    believe that the Blessed Mary, who ever enjoys the dignity of
    virginity, was the Mother of the incarnate Word, of our God and Savior
    Jesus Christ” (“Creed of the People of God”, 14).

Although many suggestions have been made as to what the name Mary
means, most of the best scholars seem to agree that Mary means “lady”.
However, no single meaning fully conveys the richness of the name.

  1. “Hail, full of grace”: literally the Greek text reads “Rejoice!”,
    obviously referring to the unique joy over the news which the angel is
    about to communicate.

“Full of grace”: by this unusual form of greeting the archangel reveals
Mary’s special dignity and honor. The Fathers and Doctors of the
Church “taught that this singular, solemn and unheard-of-greeting
showed that all the divine graces reposed in the Mother of God and that
she was adorned with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit”, which meant
that she “was never subject to the curse”, that is, was preserved from
all sin. These words of the archangel in this text constitute one of
the sources which reveal the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception (cf.
Pius IX, “Ineffabilis Deus”; Paul VI, “Creed of the People of God”).

“The Lord is with you!”: these words are not simply a greeting (“the
Lord be with you”) but an affirmation (“the Lord is with you”), and
they are closely connected with the Incarnation. St. Augustine
comments by putting these words on the archangel’s lips: “He is more
with you than He is with me: He is in your heart, He takes shape within
you, He fills your soul, He is in your womb” (“Sermo De Nativitate
Domini”, 4).

Some important Greek manuscripts and early translations add at the end
of the verse: “Blessed are you among women!”, meaning that God will
exalt Mary over all women. She is more excellent than Sarah, Hannah,
Deborah, Rachel, Judith, etc., for only she has the supreme honor of
being chosen to be the Mother of God.

29-30. Our Lady is troubled by the presence of the archangel and by the
confusion truly humble people experience when they receive praise.

  1. The Annunciation is the moment when our Lady is given to know the
    vocation which God planned for her from eternity. When the archangel
    sets her mind at ease by saying, “Do not be afraid, Mary,” he is
    helping her to overcome that initial fear which a person normally
    experiences when God gives him or her a special calling. The fact that
    Mary felt this fear does not imply the least trace of imperfection in
    her: hers is a perfectly natural reaction in the face of the
    supernatural. Imperfection would arise if one did not overcome this
    fear or rejected the advice of those in a position to help–as St.
    Gabriel helped Mary.

(continued)

31-33. The archangel Gabriel tells the Blessed Virgin Mary that she is
to be the Mother of God by reminding her of the words of Isaiah which
announced that the Messiah would be born of a virgin, a prophecy which
will find its fulfillment in Mary (cf. Matthew 1:22-23; Isaiah 7:14).

He reveals that the Child will be “great”: His greatness comes from His
being God, a greatness He does not lose when He takes on the lowliness
of human nature. He also reveals that Jesus will be the king of the
Davidic dynasty sent by God in keeping with His promise of salvation;
that His Kingdom will last forever, for His humanity will remain
forever joined to His divinity; that “He will be called Son of the Most
High”, that is that He really will be the Son of the Most High and will
be publicly recognized as such, that is, the Child will be the Son of
God.

The archangel’s announcement evokes the ancient prophecies which
foretold these prerogatives. Mary, who was well-versed in Sacred
Scripture, clearly realized that she was to be the Mother of God.

34-38. Commenting on this passage John Paul II said: “Virgo fidelis', the faithful Virgin. What does this faithfulness of Mary mean? What are the dimensions of this faithfulness? The first dimension is called search. Mary was faithful first of all when she began, lovingly, to seek the deep sense of God's plan in her and for the world.Quomodo
fiet?’ How shall this be?, she asked the Angel of the Annunciation
…].”

“The second dimension of faithfulness is called reception, acceptance.
The quomodo fiet?' is changed, on Mary's lips, to afiat’: Let it be
done, I am ready, I accept. This is the crucial moment of
faithfulness, the moment in which man perceives that he will never
completely understand the `how’: that there are in God’s plan more
areas of mystery than of clarity; that is, however he may try, he will
never succeed in understanding it completely…].”

“The third dimension of faithfulness is consistency to live in
accordance with what one believes; to adapt one’s own life to the
object of one’s adherence. To accept misunderstanding, persecutions,
rather than a break between what one practises and what one believes:
this is consistency…].”

“But all faithfulness must pass the most exacting test, that of
duration. Therefore, the fourth dimension of faithfulness is
constancy. It is easy to be consistent for a day or two. It is
difficult and important to be consistent for one’s whole life. It is
easy to be consistent in the hour of enthusiasm, it is difficult to be
so in the hour of tribulation. And only a consistency that lasts
throughout the whole life can be called faithfulness. Mary’s fiat' in the Annunciation finds its fullness in the silentfiat’ that she
repeats at the foot of the Cross” (“Homily in Mexico City Cathedral”,
26 January 1979).

(continued)

  1. Mary believed in the archangel’s words absolutely; she did not
    doubt as Zechariah had done (cf. 1:18). Her question, “How can this
    be?”, expresses her readiness to obey the will of God even though at
    first sight it implied a contradiction: on the one hand, she was
    convinced that God wished her to remain a virgin; on the other, here
    was God also announcing that she would become a mother. The archangel
    announces God’s mysterious design, and what had seemed impossible,
    according to the laws of nature, is explained by a unique intervention
    on the part of God.

Mary’s resolution to remain a virgin was certainly something very
unusual, not in line with the practice of righteous people under the
Old Covenant, for, as St. Augustine explains, “particularly attentive
to the propagation and growth of the people of God, through whom the
Prince and Savior of the world might be prophesied and be born, the
saints were obliged to make use of the good of matrimony” (“De Bono
Matrimonii”, 9, 9). However, in the Old Testament, there were some who,
in keeping with God’s plan, did remain celibate–for example, Jeremiah,
Elijah, Eliseus and John the Baptist. The Blessed Virgin, who received
a very special inspiration of the Holy Spirit to practise virginity, is
a first-fruit of the New Testament, which will establish the excellence
of virginity over marriage while not taking from the holiness of the
married state, which it raises to the level of a sacrament (cf.
“Gaudium Et Spes”, 48).

  1. The “shadow” is a symbol of the presence of God. When Israel was
    journeying through the wilderness, the glory of God filled the
    Tabernacle and a cloud covered the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus
    40:34-36). And when God gave Moses the tablets of the Law, a cloud
    covered Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:15-16); and also, at the Transfiguration
    of Jesus the voice of God the Father was heard coming out of a cloud
    (Luke 9:35).

At the moment of the Incarnation the power of God envelops our Lady–an
___expression of God’s omnipotence. The Spirit of God–which, according
to the account in Genesis (1:2), moved over the face of the waters,
bringing things to life–now comes down on Mary. And the fruit of her
womb will be the work of the Holy Spirit. The Virgin Mary, who herself
was conceived without any stain of sin (cf. Pius IX, “Ineffabilis
Deus”) becomes, after the Incarnation, a new tabernacle of God. This
is the mystery we recall every day when saying the Angelus.

(continued)

  1. Once she learns of God’s plan, our Lady yields to God’s will with
    prompt obedience, unreservedly. She realizes the disproportion between
    what she is going to become–the Mother of God–and what she is–a
    woman. However, this is what God wants to happen and for Him nothing
    is impossible; therefore no one should stand in His way. So Mary,
    combining humility and obedience, responds perfectly to God’s call:
    “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done according to
    your word.”

“At the enchantment of this virginal phrase, the Word became flesh”
([St] J. Escriva, “Holy Rosary”, first joyful mystery). From the
pure body of Mary, God shaped a new body, He created a soul out of
nothing, and the Son of God united Himself with this body and soul:
prior to this He was only God; now He is still God but also man. Mary
is now the Mother of God. This truth is a dogma of faith, first
defined by the Council of Ephesus (431). At this point she also begins
to be the spiritual Mother of all mankind. What Christ says when He is
dying–Behold, your son..., behold, your mother" (John 19:26-27)--simply promulgates what came about silently at Nazareth. "With her generousfiat’ (Mary) became, through the working of the
Spirit, the Mother of God, but also the Mother of the living, and, by
receiving into her womb the one Mediator, she became the true Ark of
the Covenant and true Temple of God" (Paul VI, “Marialis Cultus”, 6).

The Annunciation shows us the Blessed Virgin as perfect model of
"purity" (the RSV “I have no husband” is a euphemism); of “humility”
(“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord”); of “candor” and “simplicity”
(“How can this be?”); of “obedience” and “lively faith” (“Let it be done
to me according to your word”). “Following her example of obedience to
God, we can learn to serve delicately without being slavish. In Mary,
we don’t find the slightest trace of the attitude of the foolish
virgins, who obey, but thoughtlessly. Our Lady listens attentively to
what God wants, ponders what she doesn’t fully understand and asks about
what she doesn’t know. Then she gives herself completely to doing the
divine will: Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word'. Isn't that marvellous? The Blessed Virgin, our teacher in all we do, shows us here that obedience to God is not servile, does not bypass our conscience. We should be inwardly moved to discover thefreedom of the children of God’ (cf. Romans
8:21)” ([St] J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 173).

[quote=Fidelis]The Annunciation shows us the Blessed Virgin as perfect model of “purity” (the RSV “I have no husband” is a euphemism); of “humility” (“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord”); of “candor” and “simplicity” (“How can this be?”); of “obedience” and “lively faith” (“Let it be done to me according to your word”). “Following her example of obedience to
God, we can learn to serve delicately without being slavish. In Mary, we don’t find the slightest trace of the attitude of the foolish virgins, who obey, but thoughtlessly. Our Lady listens attentively to what God wants, ponders what she doesn’t fully understand and asks about what she doesn’t know. Then she gives herself completely to doing the divine will: Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word'. Isn't that marvellous? The Blessed Virgin, our teacher in all we do, shows us here that obedience to God is not servile, does not bypass our conscience. We should be inwardly moved to discover thefreedom of the children of God’ (cf. Romans
8:21)” ([St] J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 173).
[/quote]

Fidelis:

Two brief comments:

  1. “I have no husband” - Mary was BETROTHED to Joseph. that was even more binding than the old (and no longer used) “Contract du Marriage” which was a legally binding promise to marry. In the time of the Blessed Virgin, it was actually a Covenant, and the failure to keep a Covenant was regarded as a moral and religious failure as well as a legal failure. Mary had a husband, just the relationship had yet to be blessed by the religious authorities or to be consumated. The more accurate translation is that of the KJV and the NAB which state “I have not known (or had sexual relations with) a man,” which more accurately translates the original Greek.

  2. What we translate, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord…” may possibly be more accurately translated as, “I am the Lord’s slave. Do with me as you will.” It is complete and utter submission to the will of God - The exact opposite of the First Eve. As she is the first Christian in her submision to God’s will, so Mary is the first Saint in enjoying the Beatific Vision.

In Christ, Michael

Brothers and Sisters - This is a Reading for Monday in the Third Week in Advent:

**The Collects: **

For the Third Week in Advent:

*O Lord Jesus Christ, Who by Thy first coming didst send Thy messenger to prepare Thy way before Thee, Grant that the ministers and stewards of They mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready Thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at Thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in Thy sight, Who livest and reignest with The Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. * :amen:

For All of Advent:

*Almighty God, Give us grace that we cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in that time of this mortal life, in which Thy Son, JESUS Christ came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when He shall come again in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal; through Him Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. * :amen:

**The Lesson is taken from the Book of Genesis: **

(Genesis 49:1-2, 8-10) *Then Jacob called his sons, and said, "Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in days to come. Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob, and hearken to Israel your father.

Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Genesis 49:1-2, 8-10 RSV*

The Blessing:

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no man evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all men; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the blessing of God Almighty, :blessyou: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon you and remain with you now and forever. :amen:

In Christ, Michael

Brothers and Sisters - This is a Reading for Tuesday in the Third Week in Advent:

**The Collects: **

For the Third Week in Advent:

*O Lord Jesus Christ, Who by Thy first coming didst send Thy messenger to prepare Thy way before Thee, Grant that the ministers and stewards of They mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready Thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at Thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in Thy sight, Who livest and reignest with The Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. * :amen:

For All of Advent:

*Almighty God, Give us grace that we cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in that time of this mortal life, in which Thy Son, JESUS Christ came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when He shall come again in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal; through Him Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. * :amen:

**The Prophetic Lesson is taken from the Book of the Prophet Haggai: **

(Haggai 2: 5-9) *"…According to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit abides among you; fear not. For thus says the LORD of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the LORD of hosts.

The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of hosts. The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the LORD of hosts.’" Haggai 2: 5-9 RSV*

The Blessing:

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no man evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all men; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the blessing of God Almighty, :blessyou: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon you and remain with you now and forever. :amen:

In Christ, Michael

Brothers and Sisters - This is a Reading for Wednesday in the Third Week in Advent:

**The Collects: **

For the Third Week in Advent:

*O Lord Jesus Christ, Who by Thy first coming didst send Thy messenger to prepare Thy way before Thee, Grant that the ministers and stewards of They mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready Thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at Thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in Thy sight, Who livest and reignest with The Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. * :amen:

For All of Advent:

*Almighty God, Give us grace that we cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in that time of this mortal life, in which Thy Son, JESUS Christ came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when He shall come again in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal; through Him Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. * :amen:

**The Prophetic Lesson is taken from the Book of the Prophet Malachi: **

(Malachi 3:1-6) * "Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? "For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

"Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.

"For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. Malachi 3:1-6 RSV*

The Blessing:

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no man evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all men; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the blessing of God Almighty, :blessyou: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon you and remain with you now and forever. :amen:

In Christ, Michael

Brothers and Sisters - This is a Reading for Thursday in the Third Week in Advent:

**The Collects: **

For the Third Week in Advent:

*O Lord Jesus Christ, Who by Thy first coming didst send Thy messenger to prepare Thy way before Thee, Grant that the ministers and stewards of They mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready Thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at Thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in Thy sight, Who livest and reignest with The Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. * :amen:

For All of Advent:

*Almighty God, Give us grace that we cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in that time of this mortal life, in which Thy Son, JESUS Christ came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when He shall come again in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal; through Him Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. * :amen:

**The Prophetic Lesson is taken from the Book of the Prophet Zachariah: **

(Zachariah 8:1-8) *And the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. Thus says the LORD: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts, the holy mountain. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, says the LORD of hosts?

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country; and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness." Zachariah 8:1-8 RSV*

The Blessing:

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no man evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all men; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the blessing of God Almighty, :blessyou: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon you and remain with you now and forever. :amen:

In Christ, Michael

Brothers and Sisters - This is a Reading for Friday in the Third Week in Advent:

**The Collects: **

For the Third Week in Advent:

*O Lord Jesus Christ, Who by Thy first coming didst send Thy messenger to prepare Thy way before Thee, Grant that the ministers and stewards of They mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready Thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at Thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in Thy sight, Who livest and reignest with The Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. * :amen:

For All of Advent:

*Almighty God, Give us grace that we cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in that time of this mortal life, in which Thy Son, JESUS Christ came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when He shall come again in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal; through Him Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. * :amen:

**The Prophetic Lesson is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah: **

(Jeremiah 23:3-8) *Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, says the LORD.

"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: `The LORD is our righteousness.’

“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when men shall no longer say, As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,' butAs the LORD lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.” Jeremiah 23:3-8 RSV*

The Blessing:

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no man evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all men; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the blessing of God Almighty, :blessyou: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon you and remain with you now and forever. :amen:

In Christ, Michael

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