“From you shall come forth one who is to be ruler in Israel.”
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Micah (Micah 5:2-5a)
Thus says the LORD: You, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who has labour pains has brought forth; then the rest of his brethren shall return to the sons of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And this shall be peace.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 80:2ac and 3b. 15-16a.18- 19 (R. 4)
R/. O God, bring us back; let your face shine on us, and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hear us,
enthroned on the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse up your might and come to save us. R/.
God of hosts, turn again, we implore;
look down from heaven and see.
Visit this vine and protect it,
the vine your right hand has planted. R/.
May your hand be on the man at your right hand,
the son of man you have confirmed as your own.
And we shall never forsake you again;
give us life that we may call upon your name. R/.
“Behold, I have come to do your will. ”
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:5- l0)
Brethren: When Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,’ as it is written of me in the roll of the book.” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
The word of the Lord.
ALLELUIA Luke 1 :38
Alleluia. Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord: let it be to me according to your word. Alleluia.
“Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? ”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 1:39-45)
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Mary visited Elizabeth and they were in each other’s company in a most extraordinary way. Present and active in their meeting was the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary to conceive the savior of the world; inspiring Elizabeth to praise Mary and “the fruit of her womb”; and prompting the unborn John to leap for joy in Elizabeth’s womb. The Holy Spirit brought intensity to each encounter pointing to the uniqueness and significance of all these events. Mary “went in haste,” Elizabeth “cried out in a loud voice” and John “Leaped for joy”. As Christmas draws closer, let us open ourselves to receive from the Holy Spirit that same intensity. The same Holy Spirit overshadows, inspires, and prompts those of us who believe, to “set out in haste” to touch others with the Divine presence. In our act of reaching out to others in love, God is present. In our visits to the sick, God is also present. Doing God’s will is an incarnation of the Divine presence.