January 1 - Solemnity of Mother of God

December 30th, 2020

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December 27 - The Fiesta of Holy Family

December 28th, 2020

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December 25 - Nativity of our Lord

December 28th, 2020

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December 20 - Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 28th, 2020

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December 13 - Third Sunday of Advent Year B

December 11th, 2020

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First Reading   Isaiah 61:1-2a,10-11
The Lord’s salvation will be made known to the poor and the oppressed.

 

Responsorial Psalm   Luke 1:46-50,53-54
Mary sings praise to God.

 

Second Reading    1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Paul encourages the Thessalonians to rejoice and pray always.

 

Gospel Reading
John 1:6-8,19-28
John gives testimony that he is preaching and baptizing in order to prepare for the coming of another.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday’s Gospel invites us to continue our reflection on the person and mission of John the Baptist. Today we depart from the Gospel of Mark and read a selection from the Gospel of John.

The Gospel for today combines a brief passage from the prologue to John’s Gospel with a report about John the Baptist. As in Mark’s Gospel, the Gospel of John contains no birth narrative. Instead, John’s Gospel begins with a theological reflection that has come to be called the “prologue.” This prologue places the story of Jesus in its cosmological framework. It speaks of Jesus’ existence with God since the beginning of time. In John’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as the fulfillment of the Old Testament and the culmination of the Word, the light that is coming into the world’s darkness.

Following this prologue, John reports on the ministry of John the Baptist. We learn about the attention that John the Baptist received from the Jewish authorities. Messengers from the Jewish priests, the Levites and the Pharisees question John about his identity and the meaning of the baptisms that he is performing. John’s Gospel uses these questions to establish the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist. John the Baptist is not the Messiah, nor is he Elijah or the Prophet. In John’s denials, we hear echoes of the kind of messianic expectations that were common in first-century Palestine.

The only affirmative response that John the Baptist gives is when he quotes the prophet Isaiah. Upon answering the next question, John announces that the savior they seek is already among them, but as yet unrecognized. John’s response highlights for us an important Advent theme: Jesus has already come into the world as our savior. During Advent, we pray that we will be able to recognize Jesus’ presence in our midst. Advent also reminds us that Jesus will come again to fulfill the promise of salvation. We pray that we will continue to be watchful as we anticipate that great day.

The third Sunday of Advent is also called Gaudete SundayGaudete, a Latin word which means “rejoice,” is taken from the entrance antiphon for Sunday’s Mass. This theme is echoed in today’s second reading from the first Letter to the Thessalonians. It is a reminder that Advent is a season of joy because our salvation is already at hand.

December 6 - Second Sunday of Advent Year B

December 5th, 2020

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First Reading  Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11
Isaiah tells the people to prepare a way for the Lord.

 

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 85:9-14
The Lord’s salvation is near.

 

Second Reading  2 Peter 3:8-14
Peter teaches that we must always be holy because the return of the Lord cannot be predicted.

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptist preached repentance and baptized the people, in preparation for the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel is taken from the beginning of Mark. Unlike Luke and Matthew, Mark does not include any details of Jesus’ birth. Instead Mark begins with the appearance of John the Baptist in the desert. On this the Second Sunday of Advent, we are invited to reflect upon the role of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus and the salvation that he would bring to us.

Mark’s description of the appearance of John the Baptist highlights John’s continuity with the Jewish prophetic tradition. Mark combines quotations from the Old Testament books of Malachi, Isaiah, and Exodus. Mark’s description of John as an ascetic, living in the desert, clothed in camel hair, and eating locusts and wild honey, is reminiscent of the description of the prophet Elijah found in Second Kings. The people of Judea and Jerusalem flock to him, listening to his message of repentance and forgiveness; they also come to him to be baptized. Mark’s Gospel is clear, however, that John the Baptist’s role is only to prepare the way for another who will come, one who is greater than John.

Many scholars believe that the Gospels reflect the tension that likely existed between followers of John the Baptist and disciples of Jesus. Each of the four Evangelists report on John’s preaching and baptizing, and they each emphasize the importance of Jesus’ baptism by John. The four Gospels also explain that John was sent to preach in preparation for another. In the Gospel of Luke, the question is raised as to whether John the Baptist was himself the Messiah. Just as in today’s Gospel, however, John speaks quite explicitly that the Messiah was to come after him.

In today’s Gospel we hear John the Baptist contrast his baptism of repentance with the baptism that Jesus will inaugurate. John says that he has baptized with water, but that the one who is to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit. John’s baptism was not yet a Christian baptism, but a preparation for the Sacrament of Baptism through which sins are forgiven and the gift of the Holy Spirit is received.

John the Baptist is presented to us as a model during Advent. We, too, are called upon to prepare a way for the Lord. Like John the Baptist, we are messengers in service to one who is greater than we are. Our Baptism commissions us to call others to life as disciples of Jesus.

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