Liturgical Readings

St. John Chrysostom’s Sermon on Christmas in Celebration of the Nativity of the Lord

St. John Chrysostom’s Sermon on Christmas in Celebration of the Nativity of the Lord

Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things arc nourished, may receive an infant’s food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.

To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever. Amen.

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The Gift of Love – Second Reading in Preparation for the Nativity of the Lord

The Gift of Love – Second Reading in Preparation for the Nativity of the Lord

St. John also tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” We immediately, and quite rightly take this to mean that he gave his only son to die on our behalf. Yet there is more to it than that; He gave his only son not just to die but to live, and by his living make Himself known to us…Later in life, St. John wrote simply and profoundly: “God is love.” (I John 4:16) How did he know that? What made him so sure? He knew it because he knew Jesus. He had watched him live and he had watched him die.

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God’s D-Day in Jerusalem – First Reading in Preparation for the Nativity of the Lord

God’s D-Day in Jerusalem – First Reading in Preparation for the Nativity of the Lord

It is in this light that we should see the passage for today. This is a paean to those who bring the good news of God’s D-Day, his reinvasion of planet earth, of the beachhead he has established in Bethlehem, and of the spread of that light throughout the world…The invitation is there for each of us who have seen his coming to join their glad and happy announcement, to bring to everyone the grand news of God’s D-Day in Bethlehem, that, as John shouts , “the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it!” (John 1)

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Bearing Christ – Gospel in Preparation for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

Bearing Christ – Gospel in Preparation for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

This is the type of surrender to which we are all called, one in which we don’t measure out our faith or faithfulness by the quantity (or quality!) of specific deeds themselves, but by the depth of our own “Yes” to God and all the challenges, discomforts and hardships this may entail. As Fred has captured beautifully in the first two posts of this week, it may take us to places we never imagined we’d go and put us in situations we would be otherwise prone to avoid (namely, the cross!), but the value and power of that obedience to bring God’s healing and redemption to not only our own lives but also those in the world around us inestimable.

For it is the means by which we, like Our Lady, bear Christ in and for the world around us.

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A Life of Obedience – Second Reading in Preparation for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

A Life of Obedience – Second Reading in Preparation for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

Some may back away from an obedience so complete, believing that serving God means loss to self. After all, look what it got Jesus – a cross. Others may say it is our duty anyway. In truth, they are right; it is our duty anyway. However, there is more to it than that. Obeying God did bring Christ to the cross but on the cross he became the Savior of the world; and beyond the cross, his obedience brought him to the resurrection, to eternal glory, and to the right hand of God. Adam, Satan, and all of us have made the same mistake too often and too long. Obeying God in the long term loses us nothing, but gains us everything and has it the power to bless countless others in the world around us. .

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The Power of Yes – First Reading in Preparation to the Fourth Sunday in Advent

The Power of Yes – First Reading in Preparation to the Fourth Sunday in Advent

So it is that the Birth of Jesus in the city of David has not one hint of accident about it. It was fully planned by God, the way paved by God, and consummated by Mary and Joseph whose desire was to cooperate fully with God. Once again, Mary (and Joseph) said yes. Yes to a long, difficult, and harrowing journey while far along in her pregnancy. Yes to separation from family and friends who could help and support at the birth. Yes to uncertain and rugged lodging both on the way and on their arrival. And yes to many, many other things as well, all because God had asked it of her. The Messiah must be born in Bethlehem and so she must go to Bethlehem with Joseph.

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From Anxiety to Peace – Second Reading in Preparation for the Third Sunday in Advent

From Anxiety to Peace – Second Reading in Preparation for the Third Sunday in Advent

So where do we find the gift of living without debilitating anxiety? Many say the answer is right here in these few verses: it is taking everything to the Lord in prayer. But that is only so if something far more fundamental has happened first: we have come to trust the Lord and his love for us and are confident that when we pray he always hears and always answers. Anxiety diminishes as faith increases.

One small verse in Isaiah captures the secret, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is staid on you, because he trusts in you”(Isaiah 26:3)

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True Repentance – Gospel in Preparation for the Second Sunday in Advent

True Repentance – Gospel in Preparation for the Second Sunday in Advent

This is what we are called to turn and return to, not just once, but over and over again—whether we’ve completely fallen off the wagon (or never even gotten on it), or “simply” find ourselves struggling to trust in the goodness and character of God in the face of life’s struggles. True repentance and conversion don’t just happen once. They are a life-long process of constantly directing and re-directing ourselves towards God, who loves us more than we can fathom and who longs to fill every valley, make straight the crooked and smooth the rough. It is only as we turn away from the things that hurt us or harm us and turn toward Him and His love in trust and surrender that this healing, this salvation (the two words are often used interchangeably in the Gospels) can actually begin to take place.

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The Path to Perfection – Second Reading in Preparation for the Second Sunday in Advent

The Path to Perfection – Second Reading in Preparation for the Second Sunday in Advent

What is it that we should be striving for and which is his good pleasure to work within us? Paul gives more than a hint as he tells the Philippians what he prays for them. First, (and it must always be first) he prays that their love may increase ever more and more…
Second, he prays that they may increase in knowledge and discernment; that is, in their understanding of right from wrong, truth from falsehood, good from evil, value from vanity. The prayer is that they may see all things as God sees them and so know their true worth.

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Called to Prepare His Ways – First Reading in Preparation for the Second Sunday in Advent

Called to Prepare His Ways – First Reading in Preparation for the Second Sunday in Advent

“…though his ministry was unique and unrepeatable in salvation history, St John the Baptist is also a type for each and every Christian in our relationship with those who do not know or follow Jesus yet. Like John, we are to prepare the way for Him to come and for them to receive Him by helping to remove barriers and obstacles to other’s belief so that they might be open when He comes to invite them to follow. We do this primarily through representing Him with “gentleness and reverence” (I Peter 3:15) in our interactions with others and by demonstrating God’s love in tangible ways with each and every person that we meet. We are to point to Christ and not ourselves, and to always being ready, when asked, “to give a reason for the hope that is in [us]”. (Again, I Peter 3:15)”

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