Reflection on the Liturgy of the Day – from L’Année Liturgique, by Dom Prosper Guéranger
Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in every prayer let your petitions be made known to God. Psalm. O Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. Glory be to the Father.
Bend Thine ear, O Lord, we beseech Thee, to our prayers; and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Ch. IV
Brethren, rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Reflexion on the Epistle
Nothing is more just than that we rejoice in the Lord. Both the Prophet and the Apostle excite us to desire the Saviour: both of them promise us Peace. Therefore, let us not be solicitous: The Lord is nigh; nigh to His Church, and nigh to each of our souls. Who can be near so burning a fire, and yet be cold? Do we not feel that He is coming to us, in spite of all obstacles? He will let nothing be a barrier between Himself and us, neither His own infinite high majesty, nor our exceeding lowliness, nor our many sins. Yet a little while, and He will be with us. Let us go out to meet Him by these prayers, and supplications, and thanksgiving which the Apostle recommends to us. Let our zeal to unite ourselves with our holy mother the Church become more than ever fervent: now every day her prayers will increase in intense earnestness, and her longings after Him, who is her light and her love, will grow more ardent. First let us say together with her:
O Lord, who sits on the Cherubim, exert Thy power and come. Thou who rulest Israel, hearken. Thou who leadest Joseph as a sheep. Alleluia, Alleluia. Exert, O Lord, Thy power, and come to save us. Alleluia.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to saint John, Ch. I
At that time: the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and levites to John, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed, and did not deny, and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou a prophet? And he answered: No. They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Isaias. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptise, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor a prophet? John answered them saying: I baptise with water; but there hath stood one in the midst of you, Whom you know not. The same is He that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptising.
Reflexion on the Gospel
There has stood One in the midst of you, Whom you know not, says St. John the Baptist to them that were sent by the Jews. So that, our Lord may be near, He may even have come, and yet by some be not known! This Lamb of God is the holy Precursor’s consolation: he considers it a singular privilege to be but the Voice, which cries out to men to prepare the way of the Redeemer. In this, St. John is the type of the Church, and of all such as seek Jesus. St. John is full of joy because the Saviour is come: but the men around him are as indifferent as though they neither expected nor wanted a Saviour. This is the third week of Advent; and are all hearts excited by the great tidings told them by the Church, that the Messias is near at hand? They who love Him not as their Saviour, do they fear Him as their Judge? Are the crooked ways being made straight? are the hills being brought low? are Christians seriously engaged in removing from their hearts the love of riches and the love of sensual pleasures? There is no time to lose: the Lord is nigh! If these lines should come under the eye of any of those Christians, who are in this state of sinful indifference, we would conjure them to shake off their lethargy, and render themselves worthy of the visit of the divine Infant: such a visit will bring them the greatest consolation here, and give them confidence hereafter, when our Lord will come to judge all mankind. Send Thy grace, o Jesus, still more plentifully into their hearts; compel them to go in and permit not that it be said of the children of the Church, as St. John said of the Synagogue: There stands in the midst of you One, whom you know not.