Day 17: Tuesday 19 December 2017

Readings for Tuesday 19 December, Third Week of Advent
Jg 13:2-7, 24-25. Ps 70:3-6, 16-17, R/ cf v 8. Lk 1:5-25. www.catholicbishops.ie/readings

Audio: Advent Thought for the Day

Each day during Advent we are bringing you an audio Thought for the Day on a different theme. Today’s Thought for the Day is from Sandra Garry, PA to the Executive Administrator of the Councils and Agencies of the Irish Bishops’ Conference. In this piece Sandra reflects on the empty place at the table for families who have lost a loved one.

Click below to listen to the audio. 

The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, December 17-23, with December 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil.

The exact origin of the “O Antiphons” is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the “O Antiphons” was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, “Keep your O” and “The Great O Antiphons” were common sayings. We might conclude that in some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church.

The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah.

Click here to listen to O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse). 

Pope Francis believes that in a world where humanity is often wounded, mistreated, and dominated by a lack of love, the family is the “yes” of God as Love. In spite of all the pressures and difficulties it faces, Pope Francis believes that the family is still good news for today’s world.

In 2016, he wrote Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), a document about love, marriage and family life, and now he has given Ireland a special responsibility. He has asked Ireland to host the World Meeting of Families in 2018 and to prepare for that event by offering families, parishes and groups a way of thinking about and sharing his message in The Joy of Love: that the Gospel of the Family continues to be a Joy for the World.  

The Amoris: Let’s Talk Family! Let’s Be Family! programme is a response to Pope Francis’ request. The programme aims to support families and parishes as we set out on the journey of preparation to the World Meeting of Families, taking place in Dublin from 21st to 26th August 2018, and to continue that journey in the years ahead. 

During Advent we are reflecting on some of the themes from Amoris Laetitia as well as inviting you to ‘Let’s Talk Family! Let’s Be Family During Advent’. We are also offering reflections, a thought for the day, and suggesting practical ways we can be family wherever we are. These include daily random acts of kindness, charity and love that families, groups, school classrooms and parishes can take on during Advent. 

Let’s Talk Family – Thought for the Day 

Our family thought for the day for today is from Pope Francis. Please feel free to save this image and to share it across your social media pages. 

Let’s Talk Family – Pope Francis 

Joseph, example of a man who took nothing for himself – Pope Francis 

In the homily at the morning Mass, Pope Francis said Saint Joseph “took up” the fatherhood of Jesus, “a paternity that was not his own, but God’s.”

In difficulties, in troubles, in darkness, we learn from St Joseph who knew “how to walk in darkness,” “how to listen to the voice of God,” “how to go forward in silence.” That was Pope Francis’ reflection during the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, commenting on the day’s Gospel. Jesus, he explained, was born of Mary, the spouse of Joseph, the son of David.

Joseph believed and obeyed

The Pope reflected on the emotions felt by Joseph when the signs of Mary’s pregnancy appeared after she returned from the house of Elizabeth: He spoke of his “doubts,” his “sorrow,” of his “suffering,” while all around him people began to murmur – the “gossip of the neighbourhood.” He “did not understand,” but he knew that Mary was “a woman of God”: and so he decided “to send her away quietly,” not accusing her publicly. Such was his intention until “the Lord intervened,” through an angel, in a dream, who explained how the child had been conceived in her through the Holy Spirit. And so “he believed and obeyed”:

“Joseph fought within himself; in that struggle, the voice of God [is heard]: ‘But get up’ — that ‘Get up’ [which is heard] so many times in the Bible at the beginning of a mission — ‘Take Mary, bring her to your home. Take charge of the situation; take this situation in hand, and go forward.’ Joseph didn’t go to his friends to be comforted, he didn’t go to a psychiatrist so that he could interpret the dream. No… He believed. And he went forward. He took the situation in hand. But what must you take in hand, Joseph? What was the situation? What was it that Joseph had to take up? Two things: fatherhood, and mystery.”

Taking charge of “fatherhood”

First, the Pope continued, Joseph had to take charge of “fatherhood.” And this is already implied in the genealogy of Jesus, which explains how He “was thought to be the son of Joseph:

“He took on a paternity that was not his own: it came from the Father. And he went ahead with that fatherhood and all it signified: not only supporting Mary and the Child, but also raising the Child, teaching Him his trade, bringing Him up to manhood. ‘Take up a paternity that is not yours, but God’s.” And this, without saying a word. In the Gospel, there is not a single word spoken by Joseph. A man of silence, of silent obedience.”

Taking in hand the mystery of leading people back to God

Joseph is also the man who “takes in hand” the mystery. The first Reading explains that it is the mystery of “bringing the people back to God,” the mystery of the re-Creation — which, as the liturgy tells us, is “even more wondrous” than the first.  

“Joseph took in hand this mystery and helps: with silence, with his work, up to the moment when God called him to Himself. It is said of this man, who took up fatherhood and mystery, that he was the shadow of the Father: the shadow of God the Father. And if the man Jesus learned to say ‘daddy,’ ‘father,’ to His Father Who He knew as God, He learned it from life, from the witness of Joseph, the man who took care of [Him], the man who raised [Him], the man who carried forward every paternity and every mystery, but took nothing for himself.”

This, Pope Francis said, is “the great Joseph,” who God needed to carry forward “the mystery of leading the people anew to the new Creation.”

Let’s Be Family – Random Act of Kindness 

Offer to help someone who has a big to-do-list for Christmas. 

Let’s Be Family – Act of Charity 

Support families in need this Christmas. Give what you can of your time or make a donation to one of the many organisations helping people in need. 

Let’s Be Family – Our Prayer Intentions for the Day to Pray Together as a Family

A Prayer in Remembrance 
In remembrance Prayer Family Prayer Book

2. We pray for those who are sick;
that they may experience
the Lord’s healing touch.

3. Loving Father, we place our trust in you,
You gave us the Lord Jesus Christ to be our armour.
Hear our prayers during this Advent Season,
through Christ, our Lord. Amen

Music
All my heart this night rejoices. Click here to listen to this beautiful hymn for Advent and Christmas.

Ends

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