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Liturgical day: Weekdays of Advent: December 23th

1st Reading (Mal 3:1-4.23-24): Thus says the Lord God: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like the refiner's fire, or like the fuller's lye. He will sit refining and purifying silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord.

Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord, as in the days of old, as in years gone by. Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Lest I come and strike the land with doom.
Responsorial Psalm: 24
R/. Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.
Your ways, o Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.

Good and upright is the Lord; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way.

All the paths of the Lord are kindness and constancy toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees. The friendship of the Lord is with those who fear him, and his covenant, for their instruction.
Versicle before the Gospel (---): Alleluia. O King of all nations and keystone of the Church; come and save man, whom you formed from the dust! Alleluia.

Gospel text (Lk 1,57-66): When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her and they rejoiced with her. When on the eighth day they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, «Not so; he shall be called John». They said to her, «No one in your family has that name»; and they asked the father by means of signs for the name he wanted to give. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote on it, «His name is John», and they were very surprised. Immediately Zechariah could speak again and his first words were in praise of God. A holy fear came on all in the neighborhood, and throughout the Hills of Judea the people talked about these events. All who heard of it pondered in their minds and wondered, «What will this child be?». For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.

«‘What will this child be?’. For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him»

Fr. Miquel MASATS i Roca
(Girona, Spain)

Today, in the first reading we read: «Now I am sending my messenger ahead of me to clear the way» (Mal 3:1). Malachi's prophecy is fulfilled by John the Baptist. He is one of the main characters in the liturgy of Advent. He invites us to prepare ourselves with prayer and penance for the arrival of the Lord. As the collect of today's Mass says: «Your Son's birth is near; may the love of He who is the Word made flesh who became man in the Virgin's womb to live among men, welcome us».

The Precursor's birth speaks of the proximity of Christmas. The Lord is at hand!: let's get ourselves ready! When asked who he was by the priests who had come from Jerusalem, he said: «I am the voice crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord» (Jn 1:23).

«Look, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my call and open the door, I will come in to you and have supper with you, and you with me» (Rev 3:20), we read in the Communion antiphone. It is necessary to examine ourselves to see how we are preparing ourselves to receive Jesus this Christmas: God, more than anything, wants to be born in our hearts.

The Precursor's life teaches us the virtues we need to receive Jesus properly; fundamentally, humility of the heart. He acknowledges himself as an instrument of God, to fulfil his vocation, his mission. As Saint Ambrose says: «Do not boast that they call you son of God —let us acknowledge His grace without forgetting our human nature—; do not become proud if you have served well because you have done just what was expected from you. The sun does its job, the moon obeys, the angels of the Lord do their duty. The instrument chosen by God for serve the Gentiles said: ‘I am the last of the apostles, and I do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God’ (1Cor 15:9)».

We are looking for the glory of God only. The virtue of humility will help us to prepare ourselves for the coming festivities appropriately.