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Sunday 17 December 2017(O Sapientia) THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Entrance Antiphon : Phil 4: 4-5

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.Indeed, the Lord is near.

Collect

O God, who see how your peoplefaithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvationand to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever.

First readingIsaiah 61:1-2,10-11

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,for the Lord has anointed me.He has sent me to bring good news to the poor,to bind up hearts that are broken;to proclaim liberty to captives,freedom to those in prison;to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.‘I exult for joy in the Lord,my soul rejoices in my God,for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation,he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity,like a bridegroom wearing his wreath,like a bride adorned in her jewels.‘For as the earth makes fresh things grow,as a garden makes seeds spring up,so will the Lord make both integrity and praisespring up in the sight of the nations.’

CanticleLuke 1:46-50,53-54

R/ My soul rejoices in my God.

  1. My soul glorifies the Lord,my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.He looks on his servant in her nothingness;henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
  2. The Almighty works marvels for me.Holy his name!His mercy is from age to age,on those who fear him.
  3. He fills the starving with good things,sends the rich away empty.He protects Israel, his servant,remembering his mercy.

Second reading Thessalonians 5:16-24

Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt; think before you do anything – hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil.May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.

Gospel AcclamationIs61:1(Lk4:18)

Alleluia, alleluia!The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor.Alleluia!

Gospel John 1:6-8,19-28

A man came, sent by God.His name was John.He came as a witness,as a witness to speak for the light,so that everyone might believe through him.He was not the light,only a witness to speak for the light.This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:a voice that cries in the wilderness:Make a straight way for the Lord.’Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

Prayer over the Offerings

May the sacrifice of our worship, Lord, we pray,be offered to you unceasingly,to complete what was begun in sacred mysteryand powerfully accomplish for us your saving work.Through Christ our Lord.

 

Communion Antiphon : Cf. Is 35: 4

Say to the faint of heart: Be strong and do not fear.Behold, our God will come, and he will save us.

Prayer after Communion

We implore your mercy, Lord,that this divine sustenance may cleanse us of our faultsand prepare us for the coming feasts.Through Christ our Lord.

All throughout the centuries, Jesus has been coming into the lives of His people. Never the less, all through history people keep looking for the Lord to come, to be born again, and they keep missing His coming right under their noses. They ask the wrong persons if they are the messiahs. The Jews sent a delegation from Jerusalem to ask John the Baptist if he was the long-awaited Messiah who has finally come. John made them understand that the Messiah was among them but they did not recognise him. Are we much different today? Actually, God continually reaches out toward us, but we resist his coming by hiding behind layers of distractions. Christ wants us to speak in the silence of prayer but we drown His voice with noise from TV sets and radios. He comes in the sacraments especially in the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confession, and yet what we do for these sacraments

Saturday 16 December 2017

Entrance Antiphon : Cf. Ps 79: 4, 2

Come and show us your face, O Lord,who are seated upon the Cherubim, and we will be saved.

Collect

May the splendour of your glory dawn in our hearts,we pray, almighty God,that all shadows of the night may be scatteredand we may be shown to be children of lightby the advent of your Only Begotten Son.Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever.

First Reading : Ecclesiasticus 48:1-4. 9-11

The prophet Elijah arose like a fire, his word flaring like a torch. It was he who brought famine on them, and who decimated them in his zeal. By the word of the Lord, he shut up the heavens, he also, three times, brought down fire. How glorious you were in your miracles, Elijah! Has anyone reason to boast as you have? - taken up in the whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses; designated in the prophecies of doom to allay God’s wrath before the fury breaks, to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children, and to restore the tribes of Jacob. Happy shall they be who see you, and those who have fallen asleep in love.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 79

R/God of hosts, bring us back;let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

  1. O shepherd of Israel, hear us, shine forth from your cherubim throne. O Lord, rouse up your might, O Lord, come to our help.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION : Lk 3:4.6

Alleluia, alleluia!Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight. And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.Alleluia!

GOSPEL : Matthew 17:10-13

As they came down from the mountain the disciples put this question to Jesus, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah has to come first?’ ‘True,’ he replied; ‘Elijah is to come to see that everything is once more as it should be; however, I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of Man will suffer similarly at their hands.’ The disciples understood then that he had been speaking of John the Baptist.

Prayer over the Offerings

May the sacrifice of our worship, Lord, we pray,be offered to you unceasingly,to complete what was begun in sacred mysteryand powerfully accomplish for us your saving work.Through Christ our Lord.

Communion Antiphon : Cf. Rv 22: 12

Behold, I am coming soonand my recompense is with me, says the Lord,to bestow a reward according to the deeds of each.

Prayer after Communion

We implore your mercy, Lord,that this divine sustenancemay cleanse us of our faultsand prepare us for the coming feasts.Through Christ our Lord.

John the Baptist again! And again tomorrow! Jesus calls him Elijah in today’s reading. This was a reference to a popular belief that the prophet Elijah would return to prepare the way for the Messiah; it was based on Mal 4:23, “I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the day of Yahweh comes, for it will be a great and terrible day.” Elijah has already come, Jesus said, and you murdered him. And you will murder the Messiah too. Self-destruction is part of the human formula. We often destroy the only hope we have. For centuries there had been a tremendous longing for a Messiah, a deliverer; but when we came he had to be destroyed because he didn’t match the fantasy that people had of him. We often say how important hope is. But it can be blind and blinding. To be real hope, it should be open to the future and to what the future brings.

Thursday 14 December 2017 Saint John of the Cross, Priest, Doctor

Entrance Antiphon : Gal 6: 14

May I never boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Collect

O God, who gave the Priest Saint John an outstanding dedication to perfect self-denial and love of the Cross, grant that, by imitating him closely at all times, we may come to contemplate eternally your glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

 

First reading : Isaiah 41:13-20

I, the Lord, your God,I am holding you by the right hand;I tell you, ‘Do not be afraid,I will help you.’Do not be afraid, Jacob, poor worm,Israel, puny mite.’I will help you – it is the Lord who speaks –the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer.See, I turn you into a threshing-sled,new, with doubled teeth;you shall thresh and crush the mountains,and turn the hills to chaff.You shall winnow them and the wind will blow them away,the gale will scatter them.But you yourself will rejoice in the Lord,and glory in the Holy One of Israel.The poor and needy ask for water, and there is none,their tongue is parched with thirst.I, the Lord, will answer them,I, the God of Israel, will not abandon them.I will make rivers well up on barren heights,and fountains in the midst of valleys;turn the wilderness into a lake,and dry ground into waterspring.In the wilderness I will put cedar trees,acacias, myrtles, olives.In the desert I will plant juniper,plane tree and cypress side by side;so that men may see and know,may all observe and understandthat the hand of the Lord has done this,that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Psalm : Ps 144:1,9-13

R/ The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love.

  1. I will give you glory, O God my king,I will bless your name for ever.

How good is the Lord to all,compassionate to all his creatures.

  1. All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,and your friends shall repeat their blessing.

They shall speak of the glory of your reign, and declare your might, O God,

to make known to men your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendour of your reign.

  1. Yours is an everlasting kingdom;your rule lasts from age to age.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia, alleluia!Come, Lord, with your peacethat we may rejoice in your presence with sincerity of heart.Alleluia!

Gospel : Matthew 11:11-15

Jesus spoke to the crowds: ‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. Since John the Baptist came, up to this present time, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm. Because it was towards John that all the prophecies of the prophets and of the Law were leading; and he, if you will believe me, is the Elijah who was to return. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen!’

Prayer over the Offerings

Look upon the sacrificial gifts we offer, almighty God, in commemoration of Saint John of  the  Cross and grant that we, who celebrate the mysteries of the Lord’s Passion, may imitate what we now enact. Through Christ our Lord.

Communion Antiphon : Cf. Mt 16: 24

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,  take up his cross, and follow me, says the Lord.

Prayer after Communion

O God, who in Saint John have wonderfully made known the mystery of the Cross, graciously grant that, drawing strength from this sacrifice, we may cling faithfully to Christ and labour in the Church for the salvation of all. Through Christ our Lord.

The personality of John the Baptist looms very large in the Gospel narratives. He is the one who is to prepare the way of the Lord (Lk 1:76); he is the voice that preaches repentance in the wilderness (Mt 3:1-12); He had the privilege of baptizing Jesus (Mt 3:13-17); he came with the spirit of Elijah (Mt 17:13), etc. What could be the implication of saying that the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he? Does it mean we have to surpass the qualities of John so as to have a realistic chance of entering the Kingdom of God? Is it not rather better to hold that Jesus was comparing his notion of the Kingdom of God with that of the Baptist? While John preached the wrath of God, the justice of God and his burning fire, Jesus preaches the love of God, his mercy and mildness. Those aspiring to be children of the kingdom should emulate these qualities.

Friday 15 December 2017

Entrance Antiphon

Behold, the Lord will comedescending with splendour to visit his people with peace,and he will bestow on them eternal life.

Collect

Grant that your people, we pray, almighty God,may be ever watchfulfor the coming of your Only Begotten Son,that, as the author of our salvation himself has taught us,we may hasten, alert and with lighted lamps,to meet him when he comes.Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever.

First Reading : Isaiah 48:17-19

Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is good for you, I lead you in the way that you must go. If only you had been alert to my commandments, your happiness would have been like a river, your integrity like the waves of the sea. Your children would have been numbered like the sand, your descendants as many as its grains. Never would your name have been cut off or blotted out before me.

Responsorial Psalm :  Ps 1 : 1-4, 6

R/Anyone who follows you, Lord, will have the light of life.

  1. Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked; nor lingers in the way of` sinners nor sits in the company of scorners, but whose delight is the law of the Lord and who ponders his law day and night.
  2. He is like a tree that is planted beside the flowing waters, that yields its fruit in due season and whose leaves shall never fade; and all that he does shall prosper.

3.Not so are the wicked, not so! For they like winnowed chaff shall be driven away by the wind. For the Lord guards the way of the just but the way of the wicked leads to doom.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION

Alleluia, alleluia!The Lord will come, go out to meet him. Great is his beginning and his reign will have no end.Alleluia!

GOSPEL : Matthew 11:16-19 

Jesus spoke to the crowds: ‘What description can I find for this generation? It is like children shouting to each other as they sit in the market place: “We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn’t dance; we sang dirges, and you wouldn’t be mourners.” ‘For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He is possessed.” The Son of Man came, eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet wisdom has been proved right by her actions.’

Prayer over the Offerings

Be pleased, O Lord, with our humble prayers and offerings,and, since we have no merits to plead our cause,come, we pray, to our rescuewith the protection of your mercy.Through Christ our Lord.

Communion Antiphon : Cf. Phil 3: 20-21

We await a saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,who will change our mortal bodies,to conform with his glorified body.

Prayer after Communion

Replenished by the food of spiritual nourishment,we humbly beseech you, O Lord,that, through our partaking in this mystery,you may teach us to judge wisely the things of earthand hold firm to the things of heaven.Through Christ our Lord.

Today the Lord speaks to us from the prophet Isaiah. The Lord teaches us the right path to follow through the scriptures and the Holy mother church. Through our human frailty we give excuses for our wrong doings. The lord admonishes us that if we took time to be more alert about His precepts, we would experience happiness and peace. Jesus lamented about this in the gospel today. The Jews had complaints about the person of John the Baptist, and when Jesus came on the scene with a different lifestyle from that of john the Baptist, the Jews also had series of complaints. We always look for an excuse not to do the right thing and to live in sin. Let us be more conscious about doing the right things so as to enjoy God’s favour.

Wednesday 13 December 2017 Saint Lucy, Virgin, Martyr

Entrance Antiphon

Behold, now she follows the Lamb who was crucified for us,powerful in virginity, modesty her offering,a sacrifice on the altar of chastity.

Collect

May the glorious intercessionof the Virgin and Martyr Saint Lucygive us new heart, we pray, O Lord,so that we may celebrate her heavenly birthdayin this present ageand so behold things eternal.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever.

First reading : Isaiah 40:25-31

‘To whom could you liken meand who could be my equal?’ says the Holy One.Lift your eyes and look.Who made these starsif not he who drills them like an army,calling each one by name?So mighty is his power, so great his strength,that not one fails to answer.How can you say, Jacob,how can you insist, Israel,‘My destiny is hidden from the Lord,my rights are ignored by my God’?Did you not know?Had you not heard?The Lord is an everlasting God,he created the boundaries of the earth.He does not grow tired or weary,his understanding is beyond fathoming.He gives strength to the wearied,he strengthens the powerless.Young men may grow tired and weary,youths may stumble,but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength,they put out wings like eagles.They run and do not grow weary,walk and never tire.

Psalm : Ps102:1-4,8,10

R/ My soul, give thanks to the Lord.

  1. My soul, give thanks to the Lord, all my being, bless his holy name. My soul, give thanks to the Lord, and never forget all his blessings.
  2. It is he who forgives all your guilt,who heals every one of your ills, who redeems your life from the grave,who crowns you with love and compassion.
  3. The Lord is compassion and love,slow to anger and rich in mercy. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our faults.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia, alleluia!Behold, our Lord will come with powerand will enlighten the eyes of his servants.Alleluia!

Gospel : Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus exclaimed, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

Prayer over the Offerings

May the sacrifice of our worship, Lord, we pray,be offered to you unceasingly,to complete what was begun in sacred mysteryand powerfully accomplish for us your saving work.Through Christ our Lord.

Communion Antiphon : Cf. Is 40: 10; 35: 5

Behold, our Lord will come with powerand will enlighten the eyes of his servants.

Prayer after Communion

We implore your mercy, Lord, that this divine sustenance may cleanse us of our faults and prepare us for the coming feasts. Through Christ our Lord.

It is a recurring refrain in modern times to think that the hands of God have grown weary, that he no longer acts like in the days of old. Perhaps in no other place is this thinking defeated than in today’s first reading. Even in olden times, the Israelites were complaining about the silence of God. They have heard of the wonders of the Sea of Reeds, the marvels in the desert, how he crushed the Amorites, etc.  The question then is, why not do it again in our days? God defends himself and says he neither grows weary nor tired. The same God who dealt with Pharaoh, Herod, Nebuchadnezzar, is still the God of the whole universal. But do we learn from history? How many times has God personally intervened in the affairs of our country? How many times has he made politicians and prophets alike to face his wrath in dramatic circumstances in this country? Let us keep carrying our worries to him, not grow tired, we shall live to tell tales of his wonders even to generations yet unborn.