“Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.”

— St. Rose of Lima

**

“The queen bee never settles in her hive without being surrounded by her swarm, and charity never takes possession of the heart without bringing in her train all other virtues, exercising them and bringing them into play as a general his troops. But she does not call them forth suddenly, all at once, nor in all times and places. The good man is like a tree planted by the water-side that will bring forth its fruit in due season, because when a soul is watered with charity, it brings forth good works seasonably and with discretion.”

— St. Francis de Sales

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Reading 1 Is 7:10-14; 8:10

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us!”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

  1. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
    but ears open to obedience you gave me.
    Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
    then said I, “Behold I come.”
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
    To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
    and your law is within my heart!”
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
    I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
    your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
    I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
    in the vast assembly.
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Reading 2 Heb 10:4-10

Brothers and sisters:
It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats
take away sins.
For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.'”

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Verse Before the Gospel Jn 1:14b

The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us;
and we saw his glory.

Gospel Lk 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

 

**

The Annunciation of the Lord
Bishop Robert Barron

Friends, our Gospel today introduces the most important Advent personage: Mary, the Mother of God. The Church Fathers often made a connection between Eve, the mother of all the living, and Mary, the Mother of God and Mother of the Church. In fact, they saw her as “the new Eve,” the one who undid the damage done by Eve.

The angel’s greeting to Mary is important here: “Hail Mary, full of grace.” Mary is greeted as someone who is able to accept gifts. Eve and Adam grasped; Mary is ready to receive. And Mary’s reply is also significant: “How is this possible, for I do not know man?” There is nothing cowed about Mary.

The angel explains to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…” At the heart of the spiritual life is the conviction that your life is not about you. The real spiritual life is about allowing oneself to be overwhelmed by the one who loves us. Mary is someone who is ready for the impossible, and this makes her the paradigm of discipleship. “Let it be done to me according to thy word.” That’s an acquiescence to adventure.

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