4th Sunday of Advent, Year C
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Readings at Mass (see our compilation with pictures in Encouragements-175) 8-)
Liturgical Colour: Violet.
First Reading: Micah 5:1-4
He will stand and feed his flock with the power of the Lord
The Lord says this:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah,
out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel;
his origin goes back to the distant past, to the days of old.
The Lord is therefore going to abandon them
till the time when she who is to give birth gives birth.
Then the remnant of his brothers will come back to the sons of Israel.
He will stand and feed his flock with the power of the Lord,
with the majesty of the name of his God.
They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land.
He himself will be peace.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 79(80):2-3,15-16,18-19
Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hear us, shine forth from your cherubim throne.
O Lord, rouse up your might, O Lord, come to our help.
God of hosts, turn again, we implore, look down from heaven and see.
Visit this vine and protect it, the vine your right hand has planted.
May your hand be on the man you have chosen, the man you have given your strength.
And we shall never forsake you again; give us life that we may call upon your name.
Second Reading: Hebrews 10:5-10
God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will
This is what Christ said, on coming into the world:
You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation, prepared a body for me.
You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin;
then I said, just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book,
‘God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.’
Notice that he says first: You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the oblations, the holocausts and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them; and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to obey your will. He is abolishing the first sort to replace it with the second. And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.
I am the handmaid of the Lord:
let what you have said be done to me.
Gospel: Luke 1:39-45
Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?
Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’
Acknowledgment: We thank the Publisher for allowing us to publish the Mass Readings to be used as reference for Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us around the World.
Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
(see our compilation with pictures in Encouragements-176) 8-)
1. Christmas is almost here. As the final touches are being given to the Nativity scene and the Christmas tree - in St Peter's Square as well - it is necessary to prepare the soul to live intensely this great mystery of faith.
During the final days of Advent, the Liturgy puts particular emphasis on the figure of Mary. The beginning of the Incarnation of the Redeemer took place in her heart, from her "Here I am" full of faith, in reply to the divine call. If we wish to understand the genuine meaning of Christmas, we must look at her, call upon her.
2. Mary, Mother par excellence, helps us to understand the key words of the mystery of the birth of her divine Son: humility, silence, wonder, joy.
She exhorts us, first of all, to humility, so that God can find space in our heart, not darkened by pride and arrogance. She points out to us the value of silence, which knows how to listen to the song of the Angels and the crying of the Child, not stifling them by noise and confusion. Together with her, we stop before the Nativity scene with intimate wonder, savouring the simple and pure joy that this Child gives to humanity.
3. In the Holy Night the rising Star, "splendour of eternal light, sun of justice" (cf. Antiphon of the Magnificat, 21 December), comes to enlighten whoever dwells in darkness and in the shadow of death. Guided by today's Liturgy, we make the sentiments of the Virgin our own, remaining in anxious expectation for the Birth of Christ.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 21 December 2003)
With the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Lord's Birth is at hand. With the words of the Prophet Micah, the Liturgy invites us to look at Bethlehem, the little town in Judea that witnessed the great event: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, / too small to be among the clans of Judah,/ From you shall come forth for me / one who is to be ruler in Israel; / Whose origin is from of old, / from ancient times" (Micah 5: 1). One thousand years before Christ Bethlehem had given birth to the great King David, with whose presentation as an ancestor of the Messiah the Scriptures agree. The Gospel according to Luke tells that Jesus was born in Bethlehem because Joseph, Mary's husband, being "of the house and lineage of David", was obliged to go to that town for the census, and in those very days Mary gave birth to Jesus (cf. Luke 2: 1-7). In fact, Micah's prophecy continues precisely by mentioning the mysterious birth: "Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time / when she who is to give birth has borne, / And the rest of his brethren shall return to the children of Israel" (Micah 5: 2). Thus there is a divine plan that apprehends and explains the times and places of the coming into the world of the Son of God. It is a plan of peace, as the Prophet announces further, speaking of the Messiah: "He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord, / in the majestic name of the Lord, his God; / And they shall remain, for now his greatness / shall reach to the ends of the earth; / he shall be peace" (Micah 5: 3).
Precisely this aspect of the prophecy, that of messianic peace, leads us naturally to emphasize that the city of Bethlehem is also a symbol of peace, in the Holy Land and in the world. Unfortunately, in our day, it does not represent an attained and stable peace, but rather a peace sought with effort and hope. Yet God is never resigned to this state of affairs, so that this year too, in Bethlehem and throughout the world, the mystery of Christmas will be renewed in the Church. A prophecy of peace for every person which obliges Christians to immerse themselves in the closures, tragedies, that are often unknown and hidden, and in the conflicts of the context in which they live, with the sentiments of Jesus so that they may become everywhere instruments and messengers of peace, to sow love where there is hatred, pardon where there is injury, joy where there is sadness and truth where there is error, according to the beautiful words of a well-known Franciscan prayer.
Today, as in the times of Jesus, Christmas is not a fairy-tale for children but God's response to the drama of humanity in search of true peace. "He shall be peace", says the Prophet referring to the Messiah. It is up to us to open, to fling open wide the doors to welcome him. Let us learn from Mary and Joseph: let us place ourselves with faith at the service of God's plan. Even if we do not understand it fully, let us entrust ourselves to his wisdom and goodness. Let us seek first of all the Kingdom of God, and Providence will help us. A Happy Christmas to you all!
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 20 December 2009)
On this Fourth Sunday of Advent that comes just before the Nativity of the Lord, the Gospel speaks of Mary’s visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth. This event is not merely a courteous gesture but portrays with great simplicity the encounter of the Old Testament with the New. Indeed the two women, both of them then pregnant, embody expectation and the Expected One. The elderly Elizabeth symbolizes Israel which is awaiting the Messiah, whereas the young Mary bears within her the fulfilment of this expectation for the benefit of the whole of humanity.
First of all in the two women the fruit of their wombs, John and Christ, meet and recognize each other. The Christian poet Prudentius comments: “the child imprisoned in the aged womb greets by his mother’s lips his Lord, the maiden’s son” (Apotheosis, 590: pl 59, 970). John’s exultation in Elizabeth’s womb is a sign of the fulfilment of the expectation: God is about to visit his People. In the Annunciation the Archangel Gabriel spoke to Mary of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (cf. 1:36) as proof of God’s power; in spite of her old age her barren state was made fecund.
In her greeting to Mary Elizabeth recognizes that God’s promise to humanity is being fulfilled and exclaims: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43). In the Old Testament, the phrase “blessed are you among women” refers both to Jael (Judges 5:24), and to Judith (Judith 13:18), two women warriors who do their utmost to save Israel.
Instead it is used here to describe Mary, a peaceful young woman who is about to bring the Saviour into the world. Thus John’s leap of joy (cf. Luke 1:44) also calls to mind King David’s dancing when he accompanied the entry of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem (cf. 1 Chronicles 15:29. The Ark that contained the Tablets of the Law, the manna and Aaron’s rod (cf. Hebrews 9:4) was the sign of God’s presence among his People. The unborn John exults with joy before Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, who in her womb is carrying Jesus, the Son of God made man.
The scene of the Visitation also expresses the beauty of the greeting. Wherever there is reciprocal acceptance, listening, making room for another, God is there, as well as the joy that comes from him. At Christmas time let us emulate Mary, visiting all those who are living in hardship, especially the sick, prisoners, the elderly and children. And let us also imitate Elizabeth who welcomes the guest as God himself: without wishing it, we shall never know the Lord, without expecting him we shall not meet him, without looking for him we shall not find him. Let us too go to meet the Lord who comes with the same joy as Mary, who went with haste to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39).
Let us pray that all men and women may seek God, discovering that it is God himself who comes to visit us first. Let us entrust our heart to Mary, Ark of the New and Eternal Covenant, so that she may make it worthy to receive God’s visit in the mystery of his Birth.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 23 December 2012)
The Gospel for this Sunday of Advent highlights the figure of Mary. We see her when, just after having conceived in faith the Son of God, she makes the long trip from Nazareth, in Galilee, to the hill country of Judah, to visit and help her cousin Elizabeth. The Angel Gabriel had revealed to her that her elderly relative, who did not have children, was in her sixth month of pregnancy (cf. Luke 1:26-36). That’s why Our Lady, who carried within her a gift and an even greater mystery, goes to see Elizabeth and stays with her for three months. In the meeting between these two women — one old and the other young — it is the young one, Mary, who offers the first greeting. The Gospel says: “she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:40). After this greeting, Elizabeth feels enveloped in great astonishment — don’t forget this word, astonishment. Astonishment. Elizabeth feels enveloped in great astonishment which is echoed in these words: “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (v. 43). And they embrace and kiss each other, joyfully, these two women. The elderly woman and the young one, both pregnant.
To celebrate Christmas in a fruitful manner, we are called to pause in “places” of astonishment. And what are these places of astonishment in everyday life? There are three. The first place is the other, in whom we recognize a brother or sister, because since the birth of Jesus occurred, every face is marked with a semblance to the Son of God. Above all when it is the face of the poor, because God entered the world poor, and it was to the poor, in the first place, that he allowed himself to draw near.
Another place of astonishment — the second place in which, if we look with faith, we actually feel astonishment, is history. So many times we think we see it the right way, and instead we risk reading it backwards. It happens, for example, when history seems to us to be determined by the market economy, regulated by finance and business, dominated by the powers that be. The God of Christmas is instead a God who “shuffles the cards” — he likes doing so! As Mary sings in the Magnificat, it is the Lord who puts down the mighty from their thrones and exalts those of low degree, who fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty (cf. Luke 1:52-53). This is the second type of astonishment, astonishment in history.
The third place of astonishment is the Church. To look on her with the astonishment of faith means not limiting oneself to consider her only as a religious institution, which she is, but to feel her as a mother who, despite her blemishes and wrinkles — we have so many of them! — allows the features of the beloved bride purified by Christ the Lord to shine through. A Church that is able to recognize the many signs of faithful love that God continuously sends her. A Church for which the Lord Jesus will never be a possession to be jealously protected; those who do this err. The Lord Jesus will always be the One who comes to meet her and whom she knows how to await with trust and joy, giving voice to the hope of the world. The Church that calls to the Lord, “Come Lord Jesus”. The Mother Church that always has her doors open wide, and her arms open to welcome everyone. Moreover, Mother Church goes out from her own doors to seek with a mother’s smile all those who are far and bring them to the mercy of God. This is the astonishment of Christmas.
At Christmas, God gives us all of himself by giving his Only Son, who is all his joy. It is only with the heart of Mary, the humble and poor daughter of Zion, who became the Mother of the Son of the Most High, that it is possible to rejoice and be glad for the great gift of God and for his unpredictable surprise. May she help us to perceive the astonishment — these three wonders: the other, history and the Church — through the birth of Jesus, the gift of gifts, the undeserved gift who brings us salvation. The encounter with Jesus will enable us too to feel this great astonishment. We cannot have this astonishment, however, we cannot encounter Jesus, if we do not encounter him in others, in history and in the Church.
Pope Francis I (Angelus, 20 December 2015)
Note: This webpage has many hyperlinks to the Vatican Webpage. The above extracts were compiled for your easy reading.
This Publication is aimed to encourage all of Goodwill around the World. It is not for business or profit purposes but it is our way to thank our Creator for His continuous blessings!
Compiled on 23 December 2018