Entrance Antiphon: Cf. Zec 14: 5, 7
Behold, the Lord will come, and all his holy ones with him;and on that day there will be a great light.
O God, who have shown forth your salvationto all the ends of the earth,grant, we pray,that we may look forward in joyto the glorious Nativity of Christ.Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever.
First reading: Isaiah 40:1-11
‘Console my people, console them’says your God.‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalemand call to herthat her time of service is ended,that her sin is atoned for,that she has received from the hand of the Lorddouble punishment for all her crimes.’A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wildernessa way for the Lord.Make a straight highway for our Godacross the desert.Let every valley be filled in,every mountain and hill be laid low.Let every cliff become a plain,and the ridges a valley;then the glory of the Lord shall be revealedand all mankind shall see it;for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’A voice commands, ‘Cry!’and I answered, ‘What shall I cry?’”– ‘All flesh is grassand its beauty like the wild flower’s.The grass withers, the flower fadeswhen the breath of the Lord blows on them.(The grass is without doubt the people.)The grass withers, the flower fades,but the word of our God remains for ever.’Go up on a high mountain,joyful messenger to Zion.Shout with a loud voice,joyful messenger to Jerusalem.Shout without fear,say to the towns of Judah,‘Here is your God.’Here is the Lord coming with power,his arm subduing all things to him.The prize of his victory is with him,his trophies all go before him.He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms,holding them against his breastand leading to their rest the mother ewes.
Psalm: Psalm 95:1-3,10-13
Here is our God coming with power.
- O sing a new song to the Lord,sing to the Lord all the earth.O sing to the Lord, bless his name.Proclaim his help day by day..
- Tell among the nations his gloryand his wonders among all the peoples.Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’He will judge the peoples in fairness.
- Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad,let the sea and all within it thunder praise,let the land and all it bears rejoice,all the trees of the wood shout for joy at the presence of the Lord for he comes,he comes to rule the earth..
- With justice he will rule the world,he will judge the peoples with his truth.
Alleluia, alleluia!Come, Lord! Do not delay.Forgive the sins of your people.Alleluia!
Gospel: Matthew 18:12-14
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’
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.
Cf. 2 Tm 4: 8
The Just Judge will bestow a crown of righteousnesson those who eagerly await his coming.
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.
The readings of today present a different picture in our striving for holiness. Not a few of us have been burdened by the weight of our sins. Not a few of us have labored in vain to be holy. Not a few have been having sleepless nights thinking of how to do away with one vice or the other. Most especially, there are those who cannot bring themselves to accept that God has forgiven them their past sins. If you belong to any of these categories, then the message of today is for you. The prophet proclaims God’s message of consolation and of forgiveness. Your sins have been paid for, expiated. God takes the initiative when your strength fails you. He looks for the missing sheep himself. No one is lost in this search except the one who chooses to be lost. God makes available the routes where he can find you: his word and his sacraments. Are you still following these routes or are you hiding in your weaknesses?