Readings for the Week of the Third Sunday in Advent
Sunday “Go and Tell John What You See and Hear”—Matt. 11:2-15; Isaiah 32:1-20
Monday The Nativity of St. John the Baptist—Luke 1:57-80; Isaiah 33:1-24
Tuesday The Nativity of Our Lord—Luke 2:1-7; Is. 34:1-2, 8-35:10
Wednesday Waiting in Patience—James 5:7-11; Isaiah 40:1-17
Thursday The Birth of Christ Is Announced to Shepherds- Luke 2:8-14; Isaiah 40:18-41:10
Friday The Shepherds Visit Bethlehem—Luke 2:15-20; Isaiah 42:1-25
Saturday Look ahead to Sunday’s readings Isaiah 7:10-17; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25
NEXT WEEKS LESSONS: FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENTIsaiah 7:10-17: Ahaz, the King of Judah, was not a very pious king. Though the Lord told him to ask for a sign that the Lord might show His faithfulness to the house of Judah, Ahaz refused. In the face of his stubbornness, the Lord Himself gave Ahaz and the people of Judah a sign: “Behold, a virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Apart from any help or contribution from a sinful human being, this “sign” was fulfilled in the virgin conception and birth of Jesus. By this “sign” we know that God is not only with us, but that salvation is a free gift of His faithfulness and mercy in Jesus.
Romans 1:1-7: The Apostle Paul begins his great epistle to the Romans by highlighting the great truth that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the message of salvation that was “promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” This Gospel, recorded on all the pages of the Old Testament is truly about God’s “Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Through Christ, we have “grace and peace” from God our Father. This Gospel is the heart of the Apostolic Word which Paul and his fellow apostles preach for the creation and preservation of the Church of Christ.
Matthew 1:18-25: Joseph, the Guardian of Jesus as he is often called, had a difficult vocation. He was called to be Mary’s husband and Jesus’ earthly father. This calling meant a life of suffering and self-denial. This is always what true faith calls us to: a life of sacrificial love in which we deny ourselves. This is the shape of our lives as Christians because our life is lived by faith in the God and Savior who lived in selfless love for us. The Child conceived in Mary’s womb was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary was not an adulteress. His name would be called “Jesus” because He is the Lord who would save His people from their sins by becoming one with them in their flesh and blood. All this was done to fulfill the Scriptures, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which means that God is with us in the poverty and humiliation of our human condition to redeem us by the sacrifice of Himself. Joseph had no strength to fulfill His vocation within himself, but He was strengthened by the Holy Scriptures and the message of God’s selfless love for him and for all his people. This is our strength too in our vocation. The Gospel not only saves us from our sins, but it also strengthens and keeps us in the love of Christ in the earthly vocations to which our Lord has called us.