The Word This Week

As an example for us to follow, the Holy Family can seem a little too perfect: when we consider the more “dramatic” events of the Christmas and Easter story, it can seem so far removed from us. And yet, as today’s Gospel reminds us (especially in the shorter version), there were also the so-called “hidden years” – the many years of family life in Nazareth, spent in ordinary things. During that time, we hear how Jesus grew and matured, and in the glimpse of that family life we see our example. The family is a basic unit of our Christian society, despite coming under threat nowadays. Our celebration of this feast, and the Word of God we proclaim, announces that there is a lasting value in the ideals of family life, and the relationship between husband, wife, parents and children. Whatever the changing details of each age, honour, understanding and love always remain the recipe for the perfect, and holy, human family. It is love that we put on over all the other clothes of changing cultures and places, to guarantee the life of the family in imitation of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

Today’s Scripture
(Psalter:Week1) Sirach 3: 2–6, 12-14
Response: Psalm 127
O blessed are those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways;
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be happy and prosper.

Your wife like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
around your table.

Indeed thus shall be blessed
the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
all the days of your life.
(Sung Antiphon: Happy are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.)

Colossians 3: 12 – 21

Acclamation for the Gospel:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts; Let the message of Christ find a home with you. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Matthew 2: 13 – 15, 19 – 23
Prayer of the Faithful: R/. Father, hear your children.

See Today’s Readings on Catholic Online

Pope Francis’ First Christmas Message

Pope-Francis-waves-from-the-balcony-of-St-Peter-s_mediumPope Francis has delivered his first Urbi et Orbi (for the city and for the world”) Christmas Message on the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord.

Here is the text (click continue reading to see it in its entirety).

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours (Lk 2:14)

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world,

Happy Christmas!

I take up the song of the angels who appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem on the night when Jesus was born. It is a song which unites heaven and earth, giving praise and glory to heaven, and the promise of peace to earth and all its people.

I ask everyone to share in this song: it is a song for every man or woman who keeps watch through the night, who hopes for a better world, who cares for others while humbly seeking to do his or her duty. Continue reading “Pope Francis’ First Christmas Message”

The Word This Week

In many ways the readings this Sunday are simply a continuation of last week – Isaiah gives us more details about the work of the Messiah, and Paul invites us to continue to be patient until the Lord’s Coming. What is slightly different is the voice of John the Baptist this week: last week in Matthew 3 he was proclaiming with utter confidence that “someone is coming”. Now, in Matthew 11, he asks Jesus from prison: “Is it you?” For us, as we listen to these scriptures, we are being offered something very particular – the prophecies of Isaiah (and indeed the prophet John the Baptist) are pinned down firmly and securely in the person of Jesus, Son of Mary – in fact, Jesus himself, in his reply to John says as much: “I am the Messiah that Isaiah prophesied.” Again we are invited to hold the images of the prophecies in our minds until Christmas, when we can look on the child in the manger and say “We know who this is: it is the promised Messiah – God who comes to save us!”

Today’s Scripture (Psalter: Week 3)
Isaiah 35: 1 – 6. 10
Response: Psalm 145
It is he who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord, who sets prisoners free.

The Lord who gives sight to the blind,
who raises up those who are bowed down,
the Lord, who protects the stranger
and upholds the widow and orphan.

It is the Lord who loves the just
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
Zion’s God, from age to age (Sung Antiphon: Come, Lord and save us.)

Apocalypse 21: 1 – 5

Acclamation for the Gospel:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.
He has sent me to bring good news to the poor.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

James 5: 7 – 10
Prayer of the Faithful: R/. Lord, give sight.

The Word This Week

Throughout the first three weeks of Advent our focus is very clearly on the End of Time, and the Second Coming of the Lord – not on the run up to Christmas (that only comes in the last week). If we view Advent as a Season preparing for Christmas these readings will make little sense – and neither will the figure of John the Baptist who appears today: if it was about the preparation for Christmas, then John the Baptist, preaching after Jesus was born, becomes a confusing figure: his role is to preach to us, as he did of old, and to prepare us for the (second) coming of the Lord. Everything gets more specific today: What is being preached is not an event, but a person: Isaiah promises him, John welcomes him, Paul invites us to imitate him. We have here a thumbnail portrait of the Messiah – useful to refer to when we get to Christmas and he is revealed as a child in a manger!

Today’s Scripture (Psalter: Week 2)

Isaiah 11: 1 – 10
Response: Psalm 71
O God, give your judgement to the king,
to a king’s son your justice,
that he may judge your people in justice
and your poor in right judgement.

In his days justice shall flourish
and peace till the moon fails.
He shall rule from sea to sea,
from the Great River to earth’s bounds.

For he shall save the poor when they cry
and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak
and save the lives of the poor.

May his name be blessed for ever
and endure like the sun.
Every tribe shall be blessed in him,
all nations bless his name
(Sung Antiphon: In his days justice shall flourish,and peace till the moon fails.)

Romans 15: 4-9

Acclamation for the Gospel:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! Prepare a way for the Lord, Make his paths straight, and al1 mankind shall see the salvation of God. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Matthew 3: 1 – 12
Prayer of the Faithful: R/. Thy Kingdom come, Lord.

Advent Calendar – Preparing the way for the Lord who comes

Advent and Triumph of Christ (c.1480) Hans Memling

Here are some important dates that you may want to book down in your calendar for the Season of Advent.

Sun 1st dec Readers’ Afternoon
Wed 4th Dec Shared Advent Service, 7.00pm in Saint Andrew’s Church
Sat/Sun 7th/8th Dec Bible Sunday – Commissioning of the Ministers of the Word
Wed 11th Dec Visiting Confessor for Reconciliation, 7 – 8 pm
Mon 16th Dec Advent Celebration of Reconciliation, Treforest
Tues 17th Dec Saint Helen’s School Carol Service
Wed 18th Dec Cardinal Newman School Carol Service
Sat 21st Dec Family Groups Carols round the Fire
Tues 24th Dec Christmass Vigil Mass 6.30pm.
Christmass Midnight Mass 12.00 (carols at 11.30pm)
Wed 25th Dec Christmass Morning Mass 10.30am
Sun 29th Dec The Feast of the Holy Family

The Word This Week

Advent opens with a great promise: “In the days to come…” the hope of a people who need God. “…The master is coming” is also a promise, not a threat to breed fear, but to answer our cry. So Advent begins, not with thoughts of the past, with the coming of the Lord we celebrate at Christmas, but with the future, and the promise that He is coming back. We are encouraged to stay awake, and treat every day as the day the Lord will come; we do not do this out of fear for a Master who beats his servants, but out of love of a Master who always treats us with mercy. Nevertheless we must always be watchful, because we can grow sleepy and complacent, saying that we can leave this prayer or that confession or the other change in the way we live to tomorrow. Even as we look forward to the tomorrow of the Lord’s coming, we must remember that it might be today!

Today’s Scripture (Psalter: Week 1)
Isaiah 2: 1 – 5
Response: Psalm 121
1. I rejoiced when I heard them say:
“Let us go to God’s house.”
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
2. It is there that the tribes go up,
// the tribes of the Lord.
For Israel’s law it is,
there to praise the Lord’s name.
There were set the thrones of judgement//
of the house of David.
3. For the peace of Jerusalem pray:
“Peace be to your homes!
May peace reign in your walls,
in your palaces, peace!”
4. For love of my brethren and friends
I say: “Peace upon you!”
For love of the house of the Lord
I will ask for your good.
(Sung Antiphon: I rejoiced when I heard them say: “Let us go to God’s house.”)

Romans 13: 11 – 14
Acclamation for the Gospel:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! Let us see, O Lord, your mercy
and give us your saving help. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Matthew 24: 37 – 44
Prayer of the Faithful: R/. Come, Lord Jesus.

See all today’s readings on Catholic Online.