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Catholic Church / Pacoima, CA


Fourth Sunday of Advent

“Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” Luke 1:39-40

“Visitation”, from Altarpiece of the Virgin (St Vaast Altarpiece) by Jacques Daret, c. 1435

All of today’s scriptures seem to declare Christmas’s “comfort and joy.” Micah declares that, as small as Bethlehem is, the child born there will bring peace that “shall reach to the ends of the earth.” Hebrews proclaims that, despite pain and suffering, the “offering of the body of Jesus Christ” saves us all. In today’s Gospel, bearing the Christ Child within her, Mary, barely more than a child herself, immediately, unselfishly sets aside her own preoccupations—and as a betrothed but as yet unmarried mother-to-be, how many they must have been—to travel in haste, over dangerous terrain, a four-day journey (the scholars say) from Nazareth to Ain-Karem, to the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah.

Then, just as David leapt and danced before the ancient Ark of the Covenant that bore precious signs of God’s abiding presence, so John leaps in his mother Elizabeth’s womb as Mary arrives, a living ark bearing God’s living presence. Elizabeth joyfully greets Mary in words that we pray daily in the “Hail Mary”: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Why Mary is so “blessed” Elizabeth then explains: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Likewise, we may dare hope to be “blessed” for “believing that what was spoken” to us “by the Lord”—Jesus’ promise of mercy—will be fulfilled as we share God’s mercy with everyone. For by reason of our baptism and, more immediately and repeatedly, because of our participation in the Eucharist, we too bear within ourselves the living Christ. To whom, or to what situation, do we need to bear Christ this Christmas? Indeed, throughout the year, how selflessly do we set our own concerns aside? How eagerly—“in haste’—do we, disregarding difficulties, traverse whatever dangerous terrain needs conquering to be of service to another?

Readings for the Week

Monday: Is 7:10-14; Ps 24:1-6; Lk 1:26-38
Tuesday: Sg 2:8-14 or Zep 3:14-18a; Ps 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21; Lk 1:39-45
Wednesday: 1 Sm 1:24-28; 1 Sm 2:1, 4-8abcd; Lk 1:46-56
Thursday: Mal 3:1-4, 23-34; Ps 25:4-5ab, 8-10, 14; Lk 1:57-66
Friday: 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Ps 89:2-5, 27, 29; Lk 1:67-79

  • Vigil: Is 62:1-5; Ps 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29; Acts 13:16-17, 22-25; Mt 1:1-25 [18-25]
  • Night: Is 9:1-6; Ps 96:1-3, 11-13; Ti 2:11-14; Lk 2:1-14
  • Dawn: Is 62:11-12; Ps 97:1, 6, 11-12; Ti 3:4-7; Lk 2:15-20
  • Day: Is 52:7-10; Ps 98:1-6; Heb 1:1-6; Jn 1:1-18 [1-5, 9-14]

Sunday: Sir 3:2-6, 12-14 or 1 Sm 1:20-22, 24-28; Ps 128:1-5 or Ps 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10; Col 3:12-21 [12-17] or 1 Jn 3:1-2, 21-24; Lk 2:41-52

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Tuesday: St. Peter Canisius; Winter begins
Thursday: St. John of Kanty
Friday: The Vigil of Christmas
Saturday: The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)