Advent 2009

December 20 – Fourth Sunday in Advent

‘O’ Antiphon *

O key of David and sceptre of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open. O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Thought for today

During his nearly 27 years pontificate John Paul II canonised no less than 482 saints. Many of them were religious and clergy.  Ordinary people have neither the resources nor power to see a canonisation process through.  But they do know in their hearts and in their stories who the truly holy ones are.

God invariably works most through the little ones of the world. So in one sense it does not matter that the world’s “little saints” are not canonised.  Their heavenly Father well knows who they are and what they have done. On the other hand it is a pity that the ways of God are not more often acclaimed by the Church – God’s working through the weak and the small, the unnoticed and dispossessed.

In the Gospels, Mary of Nazareth, a member of Israel’s peasant class, introduces us to Jesus, who from the margins of society proclaimed God’s reign by his eating with outsiders, his healing the sick and his forgiveness of sinners. St. Luke tells us that peasant shepherds were the first to recognise Jesus. The world’s powers largely missed him.

Scripture  

You Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you one shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel …. For now his greatness shall reach the ends of the earth; he shall be peace.
- Micah 5:1, 3c

Prayer

Lord, fill our hearts with love, and as you revealed to us by an angel the coming of your son as a human being, so lead us through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen

Poetry extract 

All generations of women
Who ground the flour for bread,
And set it by their ovens
And curved strong hands to knead
How intimately they knew
Whence man’s true symbols come:
The seed, the yeast, the "bread",
The child swelling the womb.
- From “Bread" by Nancy Keesing

* The seven ‘O Antiphons’ (they each begin with ‘O’) are age-old songs that are part of the Catholic Church’s liturgy of Evening Prayer. Each evening, for Advent’s last eight days leading up to Christmas, one of the antiphons is sung. Each antiphon addresses Jesus with a unique title taken from Prophet Isaiah.