Sunday, December 14, 2014


Prayer From A Canticle
By Saint John Of The Cross

We must dig deeply in Christ.
He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures:
however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit.
Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.

Third Sunday of Advent

Reading 1
IS 61:1-2A, 10-11

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its plants,
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.

Responsorial Psalm
LK 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54

R. My soul rejoices in my God.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:

R. My soul rejoices in my God.

the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

R. My soul rejoices in my God.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

R. My soul rejoices in my God.

Reading 2
1 THES 5:16-24

Brothers and sisters:

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.

IS 61:1 (CITED IN LK 4:18)

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

JN 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,’”
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

December 14

St. John of the Cross (1541-1591)

John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: “of the Cross.” The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John’s life. The Paschal Mystery—through death to life—strongly marks John as reformer, 
mystic-poet and theologian-priest.

Ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25, John met Teresa of Jesus and like her vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely
—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God!

Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John’s spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, 
expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.

But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification. Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly “of the Cross.” He died at 49—a life short, but full.

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will proclaim Your Praise!

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 94 (95)

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.

Come, let us rejoice in the Lord,
let us acclaim God our salvation.
Let us come before him proclaiming our thanks,
let us acclaim him with songs.

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.

For the Lord is a great God,
a king above all gods.
For he holds the depths of the earth in his hands,
and the peaks of the mountains are his.
For the sea is his: he made it;
and his hands formed the dry land.

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.

Come, let us worship and bow down,
bend the knee before the Lord who made us;
for he himself is our God and we are his flock,
the sheep that follow his hand.

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.

If only, today, you would listen to his voice:
“Do not harden your hearts
as you did at Meribah,
on the day of Massah in the desert,
when your fathers tested me –
they put me to the test,
although they had seen my works.”

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.

“For forty years they wearied me,
that generation.
I said: their hearts are wandering,
they do not know my paths.
I swore in my anger:
they will never enter my place of rest.”

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.


The Advent of our God
With eager prayers we greet
And singing haste up on the road
His glorious gift to meet.
The everlasting Son
Scorns not a Virgin’s womb;
That we from bondage may be won
He bears a bondsman’s doom.
Daughter of Zion, rise
To meet thy lowly King;
Let not thy stubborn heart despise
The peace he deigns to bring.
In clouds of awful light,
As Judge he comes again,
His scattered people to unite,
With them in heaven to reign.
Let evil flee away
Ere that dread hour shall dawn.
Let this old Adam day by day
God’s image still put on.
Praise to the Incarnate Son,
Who comes to set us free,
With God the Father, ever One,
To all eternity.

Psalm 144 (145)
The greatness and goodness of God

the heavenly king will come with power and great glory to save the nations.

I will praise you to the heights, O God, my king –
I will bless your name for ever and for all time.
I will bless you, O God, day after day –
I will praise your name for ever and all time.
The Lord is great, to him all praise is due –
he is great beyond measuring.
Generation will pass to generation the praise of your deeds,
and tell the wonders you have done.
They will tell of your overwhelming power,
and pass on the tale of your greatness.
They will cry out the story of your great kindness,
they will celebrate your judgements.
The Lord takes pity, his heart is merciful,
he is patient and endlessly kind.
The Lord is gentle to all –
he shows his kindness to all his creation.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

the heavenly king will come with power and great glory to save the nations.

Psalm 144 (145)

Rejoice and be glad, daughter of Jerusalem:
behold, your king is coming to you.
Sion, do not be afraid:
your salvation is at hand.

Let all your creatures proclaim you, O Lord,
let your chosen ones bless you.
Let them tell of the glory of your reign,
let them speak of your power –
so that the children of men may know what you can do,
see the glory of your kingdom and its greatness.
Your kingdom stands firm for all ages,
your rule lasts forever and ever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Rejoice and be glad, daughter of Jerusalem:
behold, your king is coming to you.
Sion, do not be afraid:
your salvation is at hand.

Psalm 144 (145)

When the great King comes,
the hearts of men will be made pure and we shall be made worthy to meet him.
Behold, he is coming:
he will not delay.

The Lord is faithful in all his words,
the Lord is holy in all his deeds.
The Lord supports all who are falling,
the Lord lifts up all who are oppressed.
All look to you for help,
and you give them their food in due season.
In your goodness you open your hand,
and give every creature its fill.
The Lord is just in all his ways,
the Lord is kind in all that he does.
The Lord is near to those who call on him,
to all those who call on him in truth.
For those that honour him,
he does what they ask,
he hears all their prayers,
and he keeps them safe.
The Lord keeps safe all who love him,
but he dooms all the wicked to destruction.
My mouth shall tell the praises of the Lord.
Let all flesh bless his holy name,
for ever and ever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

When the great King comes,
the hearts of men will be made pure and we shall be made worthy to meet him.
Behold, he is coming:
he will not delay.

Bow your heads no longer, but look:
– your redemption is close at hand.

First Reading
Isaiah 29:13-24

The Lord has said: Because this people
approaches me only in words,
honours me only with lip-service
while its heart is far from me,
and my religion, as far as it is concerned,
is nothing but human commandment, a lesson memorised,
very well, I shall have to go on
being prodigal of prodigious prodigies with this people.
The wisdom of its sages shall decay,
the intelligence of its intelligent men shall be shrouded.
Woe to those who hide from the Lord
to conceal their plans,
who scheme in the dark
and say, ‘Who can see us? Who can recognise us?’
What perversity this is!
Is the potter no better than the clay?
Can something that was made say of its maker,
‘He did not make me’?
Or a pot say of the potter,
‘He is a fool’?
In a short time, a very short time,
shall not Lebanon become fertile land
and fertile land turn into forest?
The deaf, that day,
will hear the words of a book
and, after shadow and darkness,
the eyes of the blind will see.
But the lowly will rejoice in the Lord even more
and the poorest exult in the Holy One of Israel;
for tyrants shall be no more, and scoffers vanish,
and all be destroyed who are disposed to do evil:
those who gossip to incriminate others,
those who try at the gate to trip the arbitrator
and get the upright man’s case dismissed for groundless reasons.
Therefore the Lord speaks,
the God of the House of Jacob,
Abraham’s redeemer:
No longer shall Jacob be ashamed,
no more shall his face grow pale,
for he shall see what my hands have done in his midst,
he shall hold my name holy.
They will hallow the Holy One of Jacob,
stand in awe of the God of Israel.
Erring spirits will learn wisdom
and murmurers accept instruction.


In that day the deaf shall hear when a book is read,
and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see;
the poor among men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind receive their sight and the lame walk,
the deaf hear and the poor have the good news preached to them.
The poor among men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

Second Reading
From a sermon
by Saint Augustine

John is the voice, and Christ is the Word

John is the voice, but the Lord is the Word who was in the beginning. John is the voice that lasts for a time; 
from the beginning Christ is the Word who lives forever.

Take away the word, the meaning, and what is the voice? Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound. 
The voice without the word strikes the ear but does not build up the heart.

However, let us observe what happens when we first seek to build up our hearts. When I think about what I am going to say, 
the word or message is already in my heart. 
When I want to speak to you, I look for a way to share with your heart what is already in mine.

In my search for a way to let this message reach you, so that the word already in my heart may find place also in yours, I use my voice to speak to you. The sound of my voice brings the meaning of the word to you and then passes away. 
The word which the sound has brought to you is now in your heart, and yet it is still also in mine.

When the word has been conveyed to you, does not the sound seem to say: The word ought to grow, and I should diminish? The sound of the voice has made itself heard in the service of the word, and has gone away, as though it were saying: 
My joy is complete. Let us hold on to the word; we must not lose the word conceived inwardly in our hearts.

Do you need proof that the voice passes away but the divine Word remains? Where is John’s baptism today? It served its purpose, and it went away. Now it is Christ’s baptism that we celebrate. It is in Christ that we all believe; we hope for salvation in him. 
This is the message the voice cried out.

Because it is hard to distinguish word from voice, even John himself was thought to be the Christ. The voice was thought to be the word. But the voice acknowledged what it was, anxious not to give offence to the word. I am not the Christ, he said, nor Elijah, nor the prophet. And the question came: Who are you, then? He replied: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord. The voice of one crying in the wilderness is the voice of one breaking the silence. 
Prepare the way for the Lord, he says, as though he were saying: 
“I speak out in order to lead him into your hearts, 
but he does not choose to come where I lead him unless you prepare the way for him.”

What does prepare the way mean, if not “pray well”? What does prepare the way mean, if not “be humble in your thoughts”? We should take our lesson from John the Baptist. He is thought to be the Christ; he declares he is not what they think. 
He does not take advantage of their mistake to further his own glory.

If he had said, “I am the Christ,” you can imagine how readily he would have been believed, since they believed he was the Christ even before he spoke. But he did not say it; he acknowledged what he was. He pointed out clearly who he was; 
he humbled himself.

He saw where his salvation lay. He understood that he was a lamp, 
and his fear was that it might be blown out by the wind of pride.


The one who is to come after me takes rank before me – as he grows greater,
I must grow less.
I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.

I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.

Te Deum

God, we praise you; Lord, we proclaim you!
You, the Father, the eternal –
all the earth venerates you.
All the angels, all the heavens, every power –
The cherubim, the seraphim –
unceasingly, they cry:

“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts:
heaven and earth are full of the majesty of your glory!”
The glorious choir of Apostles –
The noble ranks of prophets –
The shining army of martyrs –
all praise you.

Throughout the world your holy Church proclaims you.
– Father of immeasurable majesty,
– True Son, only-begotten, worthy of worship,
– Holy Spirit, our Advocate.

You, Christ:
– You are the king of glory.
– You are the Father’s eternal Son.
– You, to free mankind, did not disdain a Virgin’s womb.
– You defeated the sharp spear of Death, and opened the kingdom of heaven to those who believe in you.
– You sit at God’s right hand, in the glory of the Father.
– You will come, so we believe, as our Judge.

And so we ask of you: give help to your servants,
whom you set free at the price of your precious blood.
Number them among your chosen ones in eternal glory.

Bring your people to safety, Lord,
and bless those who are your inheritance.
Rule them and lift them high for ever.
Day by day we bless you, Lord: we praise you for ever and for ever.
Of your goodness, Lord, keep us without sin for today.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us.
Let your pity, Lord, be upon us, as much as we trust in you.
In you, Lord, I trust: let me never be put to shame.

Let us pray.

Grant, almighty God,
that looking forward in faith to the feast of our Lord’s birth,
we may feel all the happiness our Saviour brings
and celebrate his coming with unfailing joy.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Let us praise the Lord.
– Thanks be to God.