December 21st – Advent

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December 21st – Advent

Readings: Sgs 2:8-14; Lk 1:39-45.

Reading 1 (Sgs 2:8-14):

Hark! my lover–here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
My lover speaks; he says to me,
“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
and come!
“For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

“O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely.”

Gospel (Lk 1:39-45):

Mary set out in those days
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: God visited His people.

            Our life on earth is the combination of happiness and sadness, union and separation, love and hatred… We can only be happy, joyful and at peace when we completely belong to God, as in the state of original justice when Adam and Eve didn’t sin yet. They used to walk and talk with God; but after they sinned, they felt ashamed and hid from Him (Gen 3:8-10). When people must live far away from God, both God and people are suffered; because the purpose when God created people, is for them to live a happy and everlasting life with Him.

            Today readings center around the joy when God visits His people. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Canticles described the joy and the happiness of a girl when her lover visited her. In the Old Testament, many authors compared the relationship between God and His people as a deep and close relationship as husband and wife, with God as a husband and Israel as a wife (cf. Hos 1-3, Isa 62:5, Jer 3:1-10, Eze 16, 23); and the human betrayal was compared as adultery. But God continually searched for and brought people back to the beginning love. In the Gospel, the evangelist Luke reported God’s very special visitation to the people: on the surface it was Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth, her cousin; but on the deeper level, it was the Messiah’s visitation to his people, represented by John Baptist, the last prophet of the Old Testament.


1/ Reading I: Let me see your face, let me hear your voice.

1.1/ The encounter between two lovers: When people in love, they want to live together so that they can see and hear each other’s. Today passage described the exciting joy of a girl when she was waiting her lover to visit: “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle, or a young stag.”

1.2/ The pain when they must be separated and the joy when they were united.

            (1) The pain and the suffering when she must wait for her lover in a long time: The author described her longing briefly: “the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.” The winter is represented for a long wait, cold and sadness. She wished for the days of winter passing by so that she shall have an opportunity to meet her lover. This is also the human feeling when they were on exile and lived far away from God. They must suffer and endure all pains because they were no longer protected and loved by Him. People on exile wanted to have a visitation from God and to be liberated by Him. God isn’t happy when He punished people and is separated from them. He is always looking for every opportunity to converse and to bring them back to His love.

            (2) The joy and happiness of the union: When the cold winter passed, the spring with warming sun shall come. The girl’s heart was full of joy because she was going to see her lover. Heaven, earth and all creation seemed to change and to rejoice with their union, as the author described: “The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.” The desire to meet and to hear the lover’s talking after a long year of separation was expressed through the lover’s sweeting words to his loved one: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is comely.”

2/ Gospel: “When the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.”

2.1/ The Blessed Mavy visited Elizabeth, her cousin: St. Luke introduced this visitation as followed: “In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” At the surface, it was a normal visitation between two kinswomen; but on the deeper level, it was God’s visitation to His people. This is a historical visitation because God prepared for this event long time ago, when Adam and Eve were fallen to sin in the garden. People desired to have this visitation so that God shall change their fate: from being death to everlasting life; from being on exile to the Promise Land; from being separated from God to being united with Him forever.  

            Elizabeth had two great joys: First, she was barren and suffered because of people’s judgment; but God changed her fate. He let her to conceive John Baptist when both her and her husband exceeded the natural age to have a child. Second, she was visited by the Mother of God, because Mary’s child shall bring salvation to her and all the people.

2.2/ Jesus visited John Baptist.

            (1) How did Elizabeth recognize Mary’s conceiving child is the Messiah? The strange thing is the Blessed Mary didn’t say anything yet about her child to Elizabeth, but she already recognized who is he, as the passage reported: “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” The reason for Elizabeth’s recognition and John Baptist’s leaping was the Holy Spirit’s presence in them. He is the Spirit of truth, He helped Elizabeth and John Babtist to recognize the Messiah. They represented for the human family of the Old Testament. Elizabeth also knew the reason why the Blessed Mary was full of grace, because Mary “believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

            (2) Sowing in pain shall harvesting in joy: The two women were joyful because of their two sons, Jesus and John Baptist; but pain and separation shall soon be happened, not only to Jesus and John Baptist but also to two mothers. Many people ask: Why a lovely Father let pain and separation occur in our life? It is better to reverse the question and to ask: Why did we insult and despite God’s, our parents’ and the love of those who care for us? Why weren’t we concerned about their love and pain? When we find the answer for this question, we shall understand the mystery of love and of suffering. We must put our complete trust in God; all suffering, separation and mourning are only temporal. When we unite with God, all these sufferings shall end.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                   

            – God loves people, He is in pain when we live far away from Him, and He leaps for joy when we return to Him. Suffering happens when we despite God’s love, our parents’ and others’ love. We shall live in joy when we know how to treasure this love.

            – When we live far away from God, we are submerged in pain and sins; when we return to God, we shall feel peaceful, happy and recover what we lost. Once we return to God, we should develop an intimate relationship with Him, and make a commitment that we shall never live far away for Him. We should say to Him: “Emmanuel! Come and live always with us.”

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