Reflections for the Third Week of Advent 2012 *
* These homilies were written by Fr. Howard in 2009 and 2010
Third Sunday of Advent
December 16, 2012 Luke 3: 10-18
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” (Entrance Antiphon)
The Third Sunday of Advent has been given the name Gaudete Sunday or Rejoice Sundaybecause, as the entrance antiphon in the Tridentine Liturgy used to announce: “The Lord is near!” Rose-colored vestments may be worn by the Presider at Liturgy today and the readings for today take a break from the penitential to the joyous in anticipation of the Lord’s coming.
Joy is defined by my on-line dictionary as: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. My own definition of joy has been: the happiness or delight caused by having everything the way it should be.
My Mom loved to have visitors in the house at this time of the year – or at anytime of the year, for that matter. When someone was coming to visit she would be busy as a bee. The living room or even the rec room downstairs would be given an extra touch of care and dusting so everything was just right. The crystal cookie platter would make an exceptional appearance full of her homemade season specialties. A bottle of wine would be cooling in the refrigerator. When all was set and the visitors arrived, Mom was happy and full of joy. What a gal!
Someone special is coming into our homes, our hearts, in a matter of a few days. The Gospel story for today from St. Luke gives us a hint as to the preparation that should be made so things will be as Jesus would have them be. He tells us that if we have two coats we should share with the person who has no coat at all. If we have food and someone else has none, we are to share what we have. We are to serve others, share with others, love our neighbor as the Good Samaritan showed us. This is Jesus’ way; it is as things should be and it brings joy to the Lord and to us.
And let us not forget to put our “homes,” our hearts, into proper order with a bit of dusting. A guest is coming. Jesus is near. Let us rejoice that our Redeemer comes to live with us in our home as human. May this coming bring us all the light of his holiness and his blessings of freedom. Then everything will be as it should be and we can all REJOICE!
Monday of the Third Week of Advent
December 17, 2012 O Wisdom
Today, December 17, begins the Octave before the Feast of Christmas and these eight days are a very special time in the Liturgy of the Church. There is a special Liturgy for each day. The Gospel for today is from St. Matthew and gives the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham to David. This also calls to mind the genealogy from the Gospel of St. Luke, somewhat different, that goes from Adam to David. These genealogies are a study in themselves and way too detailed to get into here for our purposes. I once read, I forget where, that the purpose of these genealogies is to show that the Incarnate Jesus was truly human and had a human ancestry. The particular names and order of them really doesn’t matter. Sounds like as good a reason as any.
The Octave before Christmas, from Dec. 17 to Dec. 23, also brings with the so-called ‘O Antiphons’. There are seven of them, each presenting a different title or name for the coming Messiah. They are recited by those saying the Liturgy of the Hours preceding the Magnificat or the Canticle of Mary during Vespers or Evening Prayer. They go from Dec. 17 to Dec. 23, the 24th being Christmas Eve, and Vespers for that day is from the Christmas Vigil. The history of these Antiphons, their origin, etc., is not really known. Reference has been made to them since the 3rd century, so suffice it to say that they have been a part of the Christmas Liturgy since the very early Church. The seven O Antiphons are, in English, as follows: O Wisdom, O Adonai, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Rising Sun, O King of the Nations, and O Emmanuel (God is with us).
This Octave before Christmas is very special. Enjoy it! Let it lift you and your spirits. Let’s try and attend daily Mass during these days to realize the fullness of the Liturgy.
Lord Jesus, Come! Come to your People!!!!
The O Antiphon for today’s Liturgy of the Hours is: “O Wisdom, O holy word of God, you govern all creatures with your tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.”
Let us reflect for a moment on this Antiphon. It attributes Wisdom to Jesus. We have said before that oftentimes Wisdom and Prudence are interchanged in Scripture and by spiritual writers. Prudence, as we have seen many times, is the right way of doing things. Let us pray today that God will give us the strength to realize the Wisdom of His way, truth, and life and for all of us to follow His Wisdom and not our own.
“Wonderful is His counsel and great is his Wisdom.” (Isaiah 28: 29).
Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent
December 18, 2012 O Adonai
The O Antiphon for today is: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.”
Almighty God (I am He and there is no other) willed to set Israel and its chosen people free from the forced trials of Pharaoh. He chose Moses and his brother, Aaron, to be his mediators and to lead his people to the land of milk and honey. It was God’s will to redeem his people, to raise them, deliver them, ransom them, and set them free from the darkness of sin. We are set free by the law given to Moses by God on Sinai.
Some say that law restricts us, but that is not really true. Rather, it frees us to live peacefully and safely. For example, we have the traffic light law that tells us to stop when the light is red and to go when it is green. If everyone would obey this law, we would all be free to drive safely and peacefully without being worried about accidents. We would all be going in the same direction according to God’s directives.
“Indeed, the Lord will be with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our King, he it is who will save us.” (Isaiah 33: 22).
Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
December 19, 2012 O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
The O Antiphon for today reads: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.”
Jesus is the sign of our happiness, peace, comfort, our wholeness, holiness. He came as man, as we have seen before, to raise the level of human consciousness. We cannot do this alone. For that matter, we cannot do anything alone. Jesus told us: Without me, you can do nothing.
Lord, help us to realize that our way, our efforts alone, are not enough for us to possess the happiness, peace, wholeness and holiness we desire. Come, O Flower of Jesse’s stem!
“But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11: 1 and 11: 10).
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent
December 20, 2012 O Clavis David (O Key of David)
The O Antiphon for today is: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.”
It is the Lord and the Lord alone, through his redemptive sacrifice, who opens for us the gates of heaven. If we return his love and try to do what he wills us to do, then we will benefit from his promise to us: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered the mind of humankind what God has prepared for those who love him.
Lord Jesus, help us to know your will for us and to do it. Help us to realize deep within our hearts that YOU are the way, the truth and the life and not we ourselves.
“Adonai will place the Key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, not one shall shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (Isaiah 22: 22).
Friday of the Fourth Week of Advent
December 21, 2012 O Oriens (O Rising Sun)
Today’s O Antiphon states: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”
Lord, without your divine light in our lives, we will stumble and fall a million times. We are all dust and to dust we shall return. My walk is unsteady. The pot holes of temptation are often in my way and without your light to see the way, I will surely stumble and fall. Come with your light, Help me to see!
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (Isaiah 9: 1).
Saturday of the Fourth Week of Advent
December 22, 2012 O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
The O Antiphon for today reads: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of humankind, come and save the creation you fashioned from the dust.”
We have defined JOY many times before as the feeling produced by our doing things the way God would have them done according to his divine plan for creation. God wishes us, according to his word in the Scriptures, to be his adopted children, literally the daughters and the sons of the Divine Family of Father, Son and Spirit. And this will happen only when we acknowledge him as the way, the truth and the life and then try and follow his will. The closer we come to doing this, the more joyful we will become. When our cup overflows with contentment, we know we are following his way, for it is then and only then that we have the joy in our hearts that we desire.
“For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-forever, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:5). And: “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat the swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the word against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (Isaiah 2: 4).