18 Dec 2023 – Monday, 3rd Week of Advent

18 Dec 2023 – Monday, 3rd Week of Advent

Killaloe Feast: St Flannan, 7th century renowned preacher.

1st Reading: Jeremiah 23:5-8

A righteous Branch who will rule with wisdom and justice

“The days are surely 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 live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

“Therefore, the days are surely coming,” says the Lord, “when it shall no longer be said, “as the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt,” but “As the Lord lives who brought out and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had driven them.” Then they shall live in their own land.”

Responsorial: Psalm 71: 1-2, 12-13, 18-19

R./: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever

O God, give your judgement to the king,
to a king’s son your justice,
that he may judge your people in justice
and your poor in right judgement. (R./)

For he shall save the poor when they cry
and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak
and save the lives of the poor. (R./)

Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel,
who alone works wonders,
ever blessed his glorious name.
Let his glory fill the earth. Amen! Amen! (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph is told of the conception of Jesus, who will save his people from their sins

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.


The Mother and Step-father of Jesus

God willed that His own eternal Son would be the Saviour of the entire human race. In the lavish language of Jeremiah, we hear about him as the “Righteous Branch will be raised up from David’s descendants, and that through him his people will be saved and live in safety. In the Gospel, Jesus is described as the one who will save his people from their sins. To save us is why he came! In order to do so, although he was God from eternity, he chose to take on our humanity, fully and in the flesh, by being born of a mother. That was Mary’s role and mission: to give birth to the redeemer of mankind. In order to become the mother of the Saviour, Mary was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to her role (Catechism of the Catholic Church). The angel Gabriel salutes her as “full of grace” — one who by God’s grace was made ready for her great mission in life.

As God prepared Mary for her role and mission, so are we too prepared for what is asked of us. This principle — that God prepares those whom He chooses for their role and mission — is true for everyone who is prepared to serve God. We are chosen and called to holiness. God has prepared us for works of service and of live; by giving us Jesus to be our Lord and guide, by calling us to the saving waters of Baptism, by giving us the support of the Church and its Sacraments, and by strengthening us to cooperate with His saving will.

St Matthew does not report any annunciation to Mary, but does describe an angel’s message to Joseph. St Luke, on the other hand, has God send a messenger to Mary, who begins with the words “Do not be afraid.” In Matthew, the angel says to Joseph, “Do not be afraid.” God was doing something new and extraordinary in the life of both Mary and of Joseph, something vital for the life of the human race. The conception of Jesus was a miracle of grace that raised anxious questions in the hearts of those most directly affected, Mary and Joseph. They each needed reassurance, “Do not be afraid!” to cope with the challenge they faced. In times of transition and change, we all need this reassurance, “Do not be afraid.” We put our trust in God’s presence, in Emmanuel, God-with-us, just as Mary and Joseph needed to do.



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