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Fourth Sunday of Advent - Cycle B

December 21, 2014

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Opening Prayer  

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16

Psalm: 89:2-5,27,29

Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:26-38

  • Today’s reading marks the most important event that ever occurred, what is known as the Incarnation—the taking on of human flesh by the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. It is known as the first Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, and is commemorated in the prayer traditionally recited three times a day, the Angelus.
  • That the Messiah would be born of a virgin was prophesied in the Old Testament by Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22-23). Mary herself had been prepared by God for this moment.
  • Though on the surface this passage might seem to be primarily about Mary, like all Marian teachings of the Church, the emphasis is really on Jesus. Here we find out (in verses 31-33) what his name will be (a name which means “God saves”), that he will be “great” (because he is God), that he will be “Son of the Most High” (i.e. God) as well as son (descendant) of the ancient Israelite king David (thus heir to the messianic promises to the Davidic throne; cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-17), and that his kingdom will have no end.
  • He will also be called, in verse 33, ruler of the house of Jacob (which included all twelve tribes of Israel). At the time of Jesus, by and large, only two of the tribes (Judah and Benjamin) remained in the land, the others having been carried off into captivity in 784 B.C. The implication is that those ten tribes will be restored by drawing them from other nations. Thus Jesus’ kingdom is to be a universal one, not a national one, made up of people from every time and nation.

 

QUESTIONS:

  • In what ways was the prophecy from God to David about his kingdom and his posterity (which we hear in the 1st Reading) most literally fulfilled in Jesus Christ?
  • How does the 2nd Reading make clear God’s salvation was fulfilled according to his own plan?
  • In the Gospel Reading, how does Gabriel’s announcement to Mary compare with his announcement to Zechariah (verses 13-17)? What is different in her response?
  • What truths about Jesus are emphasized in this passage? What expectations must have been raised in Mary (Luke 1:46-55, 69-79)?
  • What would it mean to doubt and fear God? When were you recently fearful, but believing? How did God meet you where you were at that time?
  • In what area of your life do you need to believe that “nothing will be impossible with God”? What keeps you from believing this?

Closing Prayer

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  §§ 64,148, 430, 437, 486, 488-490, 494, 505, 723, 2617

Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God rather for sinners than for the just, since Jesus Christ declares that he came to call not the just, but sinners. -St. Anselm

 

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- St. Jerome