Readings and Reflection for December 23, Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent

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FIRST READING
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the day of the Lord comes.
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Malachi (Malachi 3:1-4; 4:5-6)

Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? “For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a curse.”

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm25:4-5ab.8-9.10 and 14(R. see Luke 21:28)
R/. Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

O Lord, make me know your ways.
Teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth, and teach me;
for you are the God of my salvation. R/.

Good and upright is the Lord;
he shows the way to sinners.
He guides the humble in right judgement;
to the humble he teaches his way. R/.

R/. Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

All the Lord’s paths are mercy and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and commands.
The Lord’s secret is for those who fear him;
to them he reveals his covenant. R/.

ALLELUIA
Alleluia. Alleluia. Come, O King of the nations and cornerstone of the Church! Come and save man, whom you formed from the clay of the earth. Alleluia.

GOSPEL
The birth of John the Baptist.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 1:57-66)

The time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbours and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marvelled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbours. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

The Gospel of the Lord.

TODAY’S REFLECTION
The naming of a child was significant. In today’s Gospel, Elizabeth was clear on the name she wanted to give her child: John. Through signs his father, Zechariah, confirmed that his son’s name would be John. John would prepare the way for the Lord, who would inaugurate a reign of joy in the world. It is that Joy we shall be celebrating at Christmas. The angels would announce to the shepherds, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you tidings of great Joy.” We have been made joyful by God because of the birth of the one whose way John the Baptist prepared. This Christmas we must thank and share with one another something of that joy that has come to rest upon us through the birth of Jesus.

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