December 21

Office of Readings

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

Week 3

Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings

Week 4

Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings

Turn back to us, O Lord, our God.
- Show us your face and we shall be saved.


From the book of the prophet Isaiah           48:12-21; 49:9b-13

The new Exodus

    Thus says the Lord:
Listen to me, Jacob,
  Israel, whom I named!
I, it is I who am the first,
  and also the last am I.
Yes, my hand laid the foundations of the earth;
  my right hand spread out the heavens.
When I call them,
  they stand forth at once.
All of you assemble and listen:
  Who among you foretold these things?
The Lord's friend shall do his will
  against Babylon and the progeny of Chaldea.

I myself have spoken, I have called him,
  I have brought him, and his way succeeds!
Come near to me and hear this!
  Not from the beginning did I speak it in secret;
At the time it comes to pass, I am present:
  "Now the Lord God has sent me, and his spirit."

Thus says the Lord, your redeemer,
  the Holy One of Israel:
I, the Lord, your God,
  teach you what is for your good,
  and lead you on the way you should go.

If you would hearken to my commandments,
  your prosperity would be like a river,
  and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
  and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
  or blotted out from my presence.

Go forth from Babylon, flee from Chaldea!
  With shouts of joy proclaim this, make it known;
Publish it to the ends of the earth, and say,
  "The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob.
They did not thirst
  when he led them through dry lands;
Water from the rock he set flowing for them;
  he cleft the rock, and waters welled forth."

Along the ways they shall find pasture,
  on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall not hunger or thirst,
  nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
  and guides them beside springs of water.
I will cut a road through all my mountains,
  and make my highways level.
See, some shall come from afar,
  others from the north and the west,
  and some from the land of Syene.
Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth,
  break forth into song, you mountains.
For the Lord comforts his people
  and shows mercy to his afflicted.

RESPONSORY           Psalm 96:11; Isaiah 49:13; Psalm 72:7
Rejoice, you heavens, and celebrate, O earth;
cry out with praise, you mountains.
for the Lord is coming.
- He will have compassion on his poor.

In his days justice will flourish and peace will abound.
- He will have compassion on his poor.


From a commentary of Luke by Saint Ambrose, bishop
(Lib 2, 19.22-23, 26-27: CCL 14, 39-42)

Mary visits Elizabeth

When the angel revealed his message to the Virgin Mary he gave her a sign to win her trust. He told her of the motherhood of an old and barren woman to show that God is able to do all that he wills.

When she hears this Mary sets out for the hill country. She does not disbelieve Godís word; she feels no uncertainty over the message or doubt about the sign. She goes eager in purpose, dutiful in conscience, hastening for joy.

Filled with God, where would she hasten but to the heights? The Holy Spirit does not proceed by slow, laborious efforts. Quickly, too, the blessings of her coming and the Lordís presence are made clear: as soon as Elizabeth heard Maryís greeting the child leapt in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Notice the contrast and the choice of words. Elizabeth is the first to hear Maryís voice, but John is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body, but he leaps for joy at the meaning of the mystery. She is aware of Maryís presence, but he is aware of the Lordís: a woman aware of a womanís presence, the forerunner aware of the pledge of our salvation. The women speak of the grace they have received while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love with the help of their mothers, who prophesy by the spirit of their sons.

The child leaps in the womb; the mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, he fills his mother with the same Spirit. John leaps for you, and the spirit of Mary rejoices in her turn. When John leaps for joy Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, but we know that though Maryís spirit rejoices she does not need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Her son, who is beyond our understanding, is active in his mother in a way beyond our understanding. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving John, while Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit before conceiving the Lord. Elizabeth says: Blessed are you because you have believed.

You also are blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works.

Let Maryís soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Maryís soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior. In another place we read: Magnify the Lord with me. The Lord is magnified, not because the human voice can add anything to God but because he is magnified within us. Christ is the image of God, and if the soul does what is right and holy, it magnifies that image of God, in whose likeness it was created and, in magnifying the image of God, the soul has a share in its greatness and is exalted.

RESPONSORY           Luke 1:45, 46; Psalm 66:16
Happy are you who have believed,
because the Lord's promises will be accomplished in you.
And Mary said:
- My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.

Come, and listen,
and I will tell what great things God has accomplished for me.
- My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.

Hear in kindness, O Lord,
the prayers of your people,
that those who rejoice
at the coming of your Only Begotten Son in our flesh
may, when at last he comes in glory,
gain the reward of eternal life.
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.

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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