Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Today is the Fourth Sunday and final day of Advent.

Luke 1:26-55:

Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.

And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.

And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.

He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

I have often called today (Christmas Eve) "the old curiosity shop," because tonight we will see many of our Protestant brothers and sisters at Mass-people we do not see the rest of the year. For some, it will be the first time they have ever experienced the customs of Catholic liturgy. I recall last year when I attended Midnight Mass at Holy Ghost, Father Brent Shelton, the associate pastor, had to stop someone returning from the Communion line. The reason was because he saw them attempt to place Our Lord, who was present in the form of a consecrated host, in their pocket. Our Lord's Body may be placed in one's mouth, of course, but not in your pocket. We will also see come tonight Catholics who have been away from the faith, and this time of year may be the only time we see these people in a church.

As often as I rail against "Christmas and Easter Catholics," it is important to remember that these days of the year are truly days that the Lord has given to the Holy Catholic Church to be a supreme witness to the Truth, both to Catholics who are fallen away as well as to our Separated Brethren. As Mary gave a testimony to her cousin Elizabeth of her gratitude because of the Lord's favor, so we must use the opportunity that this Blessed and Holy Season to give a testimony to the Truth. Christ said to Pontius Pilate that the reason he was born and came into the world was to testify to the Truth-so must we, and how much more fitting than to give this testimony as the Body of Christ in the season of Our Lord's Birth.



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