Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Ember Wednesday of Advent

Today's readings are from a homily of St Ambrose on Luke 2; the Gospel at Mass is Like 1:26-38.

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke - In that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And so on.

The mysteries of God are unsearchable, and it is especially declared by a Prophet, that a man can hardly know His counsels. Nevertheless, some things have been revealed to us, and we may gather from some of the words and works of the Lord our Saviour, that there was a special purpose of God, in the fact that she who was chosen to be the mother of the Lord was espoused to a man. Why did not the power of the Highest overshadow her before she was so espoused? Perhaps it was lest any might blasphemously say that she had conceived in adultery the Holy One.

R. O thou that bringest good tidings of peace to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength! * Say unto the cities of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Behold, our God will come, for Whom we waited.
V. O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain, lift up thy voice with strength.
R. Say unto the cities of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Behold, our God will come, for Whom we waited.

Reading 2: And the Angel came in unto her. Let us learn from this Virgin how to bear ourselves, let us learn her modesty, let us learn by her devout utterance, above all let us learn by the holy mystery enacted. It is the part of a maiden to be timid, to avoid the advances of men, and to shrink from men's addresses. Would that our women would learn from the example of modesty here set before us. She upon whom the stare of men had never been fixed was alone in her chamber, and she found herself alone with Angels. There was neither companion nor witness there, that what passed might not be debased in gossip and the Angel saluted her.

R. There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Man shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite through all the princes of the aliens. * And all the earth shall be His possession.
V. All kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him.
R. And all the earth shall be His possession.

Reading 3: The message of God to the Virgin was a mystery, which it was not lawful for the mouth of men, but only of Angels, to utter. For the first time on earth the words are spoken The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee. The holy maiden heareth, and believeth. At length she said Behold the handmaid of the Lord be it unto me according to thy word. Here is an example of lowliness, here is a pattern of true devotion. At the very moment that she is told she is chosen to be the mother of the Lord she at once declareth herself His handmaid. The knowledge that she was mother of God caused in the heart of Mary only an act of humility.

R. The Lord, the Ruler, cometh quickly. * And His name shall be called Emmanuel.
V. In His days shall righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace.
R. And His name shall be called Emmanuel.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And His name shall be called Emmanuel.

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