Sunday Readings and Reflections

Sunday, December 20 
Fourth Sunday of Advent 

Roman Ordinary calendar

St. Dominic of Silos, Sts. Abraham – Isaac, & Jacob

2nd book of Samuel 7,1-5.8b-12.14a.16.

When King David was settled in his palace, and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side, 
he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!” 
Nathan answered the king, “Go, do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you.” 
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said: 
“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Should you build me a house to dwell in? 
“Now then, speak thus to my servant David, ‘The LORD of hosts has this to say: It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. 
I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth. 
I will fix a place for my people Israel; I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place without further disturbance. Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old, 
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. 
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. 
I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. And if he does wrong, I will correct him with the rod of men and with human chastisements; 
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.'” 

Psalms 89(88),2-3.4-5.27.29.

The favors of the LORD I will sing forever; 
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. 
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”; 
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness. 

“I have made a covenant with my chosen one, 
I have sworn to David my servant: 
Forever will I confirm your posterity 
and establish your throne for all generations.” 

“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father, 
my God, the Rock, my savior.’ 
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him, 
and my covenant with him stands firm.” 

Letter to the Romans 16,25-27.

Now to him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages 
but now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith, 
to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen. 

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 1,26-38.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 
And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” 
But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 
But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” 
And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 
for nothing will be impossible for God.” 
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. 

Saint Bede the Venerable (c.673-735) 
monk, Doctor of the Church 
Homilies for Advent, no. 3 ; CCL 122, 14-17 (Christ our Light, pub. Exordium books, 1981, ©Friends of Henry Ashworth, pp. 32-33)

“The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

“The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.” What is said of the house of David applies not only to Joseph but also to Mary. It was a precept of the law that each man should marry a wife from his own tribe and kindred. Saint Paul also bears testimony to this when he writes to Timothy: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my Gospel” (2 Tm 2:8) (…)

“He will be great, and will be called the son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.” The angel refers to the kingdom of the Israelite nation as the throne of David because in his time, by the Lord’s command and assistance, David governed it with a spirit of faithful service (…) As David had once ruled the people with temporal authority, so Christ would now lead them to the eternal kingdom by his spiritual grace (…)

“He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever”. The house of Jacob here refers to the universal Church which, through its faith in and witness to Christ, shares the heritage of the patriarchs. This may apply either to those who are physical descendants of the patriarchal families, or to those who come from gentile nations and are reborn in Christ by the waters of baptism. In this house Christ shall reign for ever, and “of his kingdom there will be no end”. During this present life, Christ rules in the Church. By faith and love he dwells in the hearts of his elect, and guides them by his unceasing care toward their heavenly reward. In the life to come, when their period of exile on earth is ended, he will exercise his kingship by leading the faithful to their heavenly country. There, for ever inspired by the vision of his presence, their one delight will be to praise and glorify him.

Traditional Latin Mass Readings for the fourth Sunday of Advent

EPISTLE I Corinthians 4: 1-5

Fratres: Sic nos exístimet homo ut minístros Christi, et dispensatóres mysteriórum Dei. Hic jam quǽritur inter dispensatóres, ut fidélis quis inveniátur. Mihi autem pro mínimo est, ut a vobis júdicer aut ab humáno die: sed neque meípsum júdico. Nihil enim mihi cónscius sum: sed non in hoc justificátus sum: qui autem júdicat me, Dóminus est. Ítaque nolíte ante tempus judicáre, quoadúsque véniat Dóminus: qui et illuminábit abscóndita tenebrárum, et manifestábit consília córdium: et tunc laus erit unicuíque a Deo.

Brethren, Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers that a man be found faithful. But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you or by man’s day: but neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything: yet am I not hereby justified, by He that judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge not before the time, until the Lord come: Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels fo the hearts: and then shall every man have praise from God.

GRADUAL Psalms 144: 18, 21

Prope est Dóminus ómnibus invocántibus eum: ómnibus qui ínvocant eum in veritáte. Laudem Dómini loquétur os meum: et benedícat omnis caro nomen sanctum ejus.

The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him: to all that call upon Him in truth. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless His Holy Name.


Allelúia, allelúia. Veni, Dómine, et noli tardáre: reláxa facínora plebis tuæ Israël. Allelúia.

Alleluia, alleluia. Come, O Lord, and tarry not: forgive the sins of Thy people Israel. Alleluia.

GOSPEL Luke 3: 1-6

Anno quintodécimo impérii Tibérii Cǽsaris, procuránte Póntio Piláto Judǽam, tetrárcha autem Galilǽæ Heróde, Philíppo autem fratre ejus tetrárcha Iturǽæ et Trachonítidis regiónis, et Lysánia Abilínæ tetrárcha, sub princípibus sacerdótum Anna et Cáipha: factum est verbum Dómini super Joánnem, Zacharíæ filíum, in desérto. Et venit in omnem regiónem Jordánis, prǽdicans baptísmum pœniténtiæ in remissiónem peccatórum, sicut scriptum est in libro sermónum Isaíæ prophétæ: Vox clamántis in desérto: Paráte viam Dómini: rectas fácite sémitas ejus: omnis vallis implébitur: et omnis mons et collis humiliábitur: et erunt prava in dirécta, et áspera in vias planas: et vidébit omnis caro salutáre Dei.

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina, under the high priests Annas and Caiphas: the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins, as it was written in the book of the sayings of the Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His paths: every valley shall be filled: and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain: and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

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