December 17

Office of Readings

The first part of the Office is from the current weekday of Advent:

Week 3

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Week 4

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Readings of the 17th of December

The Lord proclaims his word to Jacob.
- His laws and decrees to Israel.


From the book of the prophet Isaiah           45:1-13

The salvation of Israel through Cyrus

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, Cyrus,
  whose right hand I grasp,
Subduing nations before him,
  and making kings run in his service,
Opening doors before him
  and leaving the gates unbarred:

I will go before you
  and level the mountains;
Bronze doors I will shatter,
  and iron bars I will snap.
I will give you treasures out of the darkness,
  and riches that have been hidden away,
That you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel,
  who calls you by your name.

For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
  of Israel my chosen one,
I have called you by your name,
  giving you a title, though you knew me not.
I am the Lord and there is no other,
  there is no God besides me.
It is I who arm you, though you know me not,
  so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
 men may know that there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, there is no other;
  I form the light, and create the darkness,
I make well-being and create woe;
  I, the Lord, do all these things.

Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above,
  like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.
Let the earth open and salvation bud forth;
  let justice also spring up!
  I, the Lord, have created this.
Woe to him who contends with his Maker;
  a potsherd among potsherds of the earth!
Dare the clay say to its modeler, "What are you doing?"
  or, "What you are making has no hands"?
Woe to him who asks a father, "What are you begetting?"
  or a woman, "What are you giving birth to?"

Thus says the Lord,
  the Holy One of Israel, his maker:
You question me about my children,
  or prescribe the work of my hands for me!
It was I who made the earth
  and created mankind upon it;
It was my hands that stretched out the heavens;
  I gave the order to all their host.
It was I who stirred up one for the triumph of justice;
  all his ways I make level.
He shall rebuild my city
  and let my exiles go free
Without price or ransom,
  says the Lord of hosts.

RESPONSORY           Isaiah 45:8; see 16:1
Let the heavens drop down gentle showers,
let the clouds rain down the Just One,
- and let the earth bring forth a Savior.

Lord, send the Lamb, the ruler of the earth, from the Rock in the desert to the mountain of the daughter of Zion.
- and let the earth bring forth a Savior.


From a letter by Saint Leo the Great, pope
(Ep. 31, 2-3: PL 54, 791-793)

The mystery of our reconciliation with God

To speak of our Lord, the son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as true and perfect man is of no value to us if we do not believe that he is descended from the line of ancestors set out in the Gospel.

Matthew's gospel begins by setting out the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham, and then traces his human descent by bringing his ancestral line down to his mother's husband, Joseph. On the other hand, Luke traces his parentage backward step by step to the actual father of mankind, to show that both the first and the last Adam share the same nature.

No doubt the Son of God in his omnipotence could have taught and sanctified men by appearing to them in a semblance of human form as he did to the patriarchs and prophets, when for instance he engaged in a wrestling contest or entered into conversation with them, or when he accepted their hospitality and even ate the food they set before him. But these appearances were only types, signs that mysteriously foretold the coming of one who would take a true human nature from the stock of the patriarchs who had gone before him. No mere figure, then, fulfilled the mystery of our reconciliation with God, ordained from all eternity. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon the Virgin nor had the power of the Most High overshadowed her, so that within her spotless womb Wisdom might build itself a house and the Word become flesh. The divine nature and the nature of a servant were to be united in one person so that the Creator of time might be born in time, and he through whom all things were made might be brought forth in their midst.

For unless the new man, by being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, had taken on himself the nature of our first parents, unless he had stooped to be one in substance with his mother while sharing the Father's substance and, being alone free from sin, united our nature to his, the whole human race would still be held captive under the dominion of Satan. The Conqueror's victory would have profited us nothing if the battle had been fought outside our human condition. But through this wonderful blending the mystery of new birth shone upon us, so that through the same Spirit by whom Christ was conceived and brought forth we too might be born again in a spiritual birth; and in consequence the evangelist declares the faithful to have been born not of blood, nor of the desire of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

RESPONSORY           See Isaiah 11:10; Luke 1:32
Behold the root of Jesse will come down to save the people,
the nations will entreat him;
- and his name will be held in reverence.

The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob for ever.
- And his name will be held in reverence.

O God, Creator and Redeemer of human nature,
who willed that your Word should take flesh
in an ever-virgin womb,
look with favor on our prayers,
that your Only Begotten Son,
having taken to himself our humanity,
may be pleased to grant us a share in his divinity.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Let us praise the Lord.
- And give him thanks.

The English translation of Psalm Responses, Alleluia Verses, Gospel Verses from Lectionary for Mass 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL); the English translation of Antiphons, Invitatories, Responsories, Intercessions, Psalm 95, the Canticle of the Lamb, Psalm Prayers, Non-Biblical Readings from The Liturgy of the Hours 1973, 1974, 1975, ICEL; excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


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