21 Dec 2012

23rd December 2012 - 4th Sunday of Advent

On this weeks programme we are joined by Sr Dympna Clancy to share her reflection on Advent and preparations for Christmas. We have our regular reflection on the Sunday gospel as well as our saints of the week and other liturgical odds and ends.

The weeks programme is available on podcast HERE.

A Reflection on Advent and preparations for Christmas 


Sr Dympna Clancy joins us this week to share her reflection about preparing for Christmas and marking the time of preparation that is Advent. Dympna reminds us that instead of viewing the tasks of Christmas preparation such as writing cards or wrapping presents how they can be moments of pray for the person for whom we are writing; a time to pause and pray for the person we are thinking of.

Christmas is certainly a time for children but it is also a time for anyone - child or adult - who seeks hope. It centres around the birth of a Child. Hope has to be centred on a person, and the crib reminds us who that person of hope is - the Babe of Bethleham, a child full of promise, a child full of peace. When we look at the crib perhaps a couple of questions might be:
  • Is this the Person I need right now in my life?
  • Is this the Companion I need now who can help me get through the cares and the worries that I have now?
  • Is this the Person who can make a difference in my life each day?
It is important to keep the "Christ" in Christmas, the best gift that we have been given. It is important to recall the many blessings that we have, the gifts that we have been given in our lives. We think of many suffering around the world, we should reach out to them in prayer.

Christmas is a celebration of a historic event but how much time do we give to speaking to the person whose birth we are celebrating?

You can listen to Sr Dympna's reflection excerpted from the programme HERE.

Gospel - Luke 1:39-44

This weeks gospel  from Luke brings the focus on Mary and her Visitation to Elizabeth. Once more she is put before us as the model for Christian life where Luke offers us
Mary's life reminds us that to follow Gods way; to be open to him can be a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. God doesnt chose those who will find the giving easy; but rather like Mary we asked to give our all to Jesus.

"The two pregnant women in our Gospel today are very different in age, yet both full of joy and concern for each other. Mary goes to visit Elizabeth because of her advanced age and the attendant dangers of so late a pregnancy. This visit is a clear sign of Mary’s generosity and goodness. Through the light of the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth recognised Mary’s privilege as the mother of Christ. She greets her in the words we are so familiar with in the Hail Mary. And Mary responds in the equally familiar words of the Magnificat.

These two great women understand the miracle of conception and birth. But in each case there was a direct intervention of God in a truly exceptional way. The Gospel tells us that both were informed of this fact by the words of an angel-they each had a direct message from God telling them so.
But God uses the extraordinary to highlight the significance of the ordinary. The fact that these two women had this extraordinary intervention only demonstrates that our own lives too are a gift of God-what you could call an ordinary intervention if you like. It is from this understanding that the Church takes its position on all life issues.

At particular moments we might recognise the hand of God in our lives. Maybe it was when we felt we had a priestly or religious vocation or when we finally decided on our partner in marriage. Maybe it was in the birth of a child, a change in job circumstances, or the death of a parent. Maybe it was a moment in prayer, the grace of a sacrament, advice in the confessional, wise words from a friend or relative at a critical moment.

God continues to work with us and for us. He takes the long view and there are periods of seeming barrenness, seeming aloneness. But these are all part of that gestation period which is life on earth. We were born into this world and we will be reborn into eternal life.

Every now and then like John the Baptist we leap in this womb of ours, which is our life on earth. Every now and then we recognise God’s presence, just as John recognised Jesus’ presence, and we leap with joy. But life is constantly moving on and God is always with us. He caused us to come into being, he sustains and feeds us, and he will welcome us into life eternal. We celebrate a birth at Christmas — a birth, a life, a death and a resurrection".

 (Reflection from HERE)

On this last Sunday of Advent,
we quietly reflect on the mystery.
We rest in awe, in wonder,
at how our God entered our world and came to be with us.
We pause to receive the gift offered us:
that the Spirit of God will open up our lives and
that Jesus will really come into our hearts.

 May we have watchful hope today,
believing what the Lord promises us.
Let us pray today, that we might be God's servants,
that we might be instruments of God's love
for our families and all we serve this week.

 ...Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1)

 Lord, make us turn to you;
let us see your face and be saved. (Psalm 80)

 ... from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
whose origin is from ancient times. (Micah 5)
Other reflections on this weeks gospel:
Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy

Liturgical odds and ends

Divine Office - Week 4

Saints of the Week

December 23rd - St John of Kanty

We enter into the Season of Christmas which runs from sunset on December 24th to sunset on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (January 13th 2013).

December 24th - Christmas Eve
December 25th - Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
December 26th - St Stephen (martyr)
December 27th - St John the Evangelist (Apostle)
December 28th - The Holy Innocents (martyrs) (aka Childermass)
December 29th - St Thomas Becket (martyr)
December 30th - Feast of the Holy Family
December 31st - St Sylvester (Pope)
January 1st 2013 - Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

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