December 20- 26: FEASTS AND READINGS

DECEMBER 20 Mon Advent Weekday Is 7:10-14/Lk 1:26-38 

21 Tue Advent Weekday [Saint Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church]

Sg 2:8-14 or Zep 3:14-18a/Lk 1:39-45 

22 Wed Advent Weekday 1 Sm 1:24-28/Lk 1:46-56 

23 Thu Advent Weekday [Saint John of Kanty, Priest] Mal 3:1-4, 23-24/Lk 1:57-66 

24 Fri Advent Weekday  2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16/Lk 1:67-79 

25 Sat THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD (Christmas) Solemnity 

Vigil: Is 62:1-5/Acts 13:16-17, 22-25/Mt 1:1-25 or 1:18-25 (13) Night: Is 9:1-6/Ti 2:11-14/Lk 2:1-14 

Dawn: Is 62:11-12/Ti 3:4-7/Lk 2:15-20 

Day: Is 52:7-10/Heb 1:1-6/Jn 1:1-18 or 1:1-5, 9-14 

26 SUN THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH

Sir 3:2-6, 12-14/Col 3:12-21 or 3:12-17/Lk 2:41-52

or, in Year C, 1 Sm 1:20-22, 24-28/1 Jn 3:1-2, 21-24/Lk 2:41-52

We begin reading St. Luke’s Infancy Account this week in our liturgy. I added a reflection on Luke’s account of Zechariah in the temple, which our Sunday readings displaced this year. Be sure to read the Old Testament readings that accompany Luke’s account. They provide the background for Luke’s story; without them we tend to read it too literally.

By neglecting the Old Testament readings we miss understanding New Testament sources like Luke.

I’m reading again Pope Benedict’s “Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives” (Image Books 2012), a wonderful commentary on our readings for this week. Benedict engages Luke using the best of modern scripture scholarship (mostly German) and beautifully presents the meaning of Luke’s narrative. 

I remember the headlines when his book appeared: “Pope says the ox and the donkey weren’t around the manger at Christ’s birth.” Far from denying the facts of the Infancy Narrative, Pope Benedict makes them more understandable. The manger of Jesus is the Lord’s first throne, the humble temple where he comes to feed the poorest of the world.

“So the manger has in some sense become the Ark of the Covenant, in which God is mysteriously hidden among men, and before which the time has come for ‘ox and ass’–humanity made up of Jews and Gentiles–to acknowledge God.”

Until now, many of our Advent readings were taken from Matthew’s Gospel, which portrays Jesus teaching on a mountain (Isaiah’s favorite symbol) and working great miracles that benefit all who come. Jesus is the new temple, the new Presence of God, Emmanuel, God with us.  

This week Luke is the primary source for the our gospel readings.        

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