Having taught us on the first Sunday of Advent to sigh with the prophets for the redemption through Christ, the Church on this day reminds us, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of the joyful promises of God for the salvation of the Gentiles, and of Jesus Christ's actual coming, in order to quicken our desire for it, and to produce in us an alacrity in making ready our hearts by penance and love.
For this reason she says in the Introit of the Mass : “People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations, and the Lord shall make the glory of His voice to be heard in the joy of your heart.” “Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.” Glory be to the Father, etc.
Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the ways of Thine only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds. Through the same Our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.
EPISTLE. Rom. xv. 4-13.
Brethren : What things soever were written, were written for our learning: that through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ : that with one mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honor of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the gentiles are to glorify God for His mercy, as it is written : Therefore will I confess to Thee, O Lord, among the gentiles, and will sing to Thy name. And again He saith : Rejoice, ye gentiles, with His people. And again : Praise the Lord, all ye gentiles; and magnify Him, all ye peoples. And again Isaias saith : There shall be a root of Jesse ; and He that shall rise up to rule the gentiles, in Him the gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you all with joy and peace in believing: that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.
What are we to learn by this epistle?
To be grateful to God for having called us, by His grace, to the true faith, and for having received us into the bosom of His holy Church. Again, we are taught that by envy, discord, pride, and hatred we lose our salvation. Finally, St. Paul refers us to the Scriptures for instruction.
Why do the Holy Scriptures profit us?
1. They teach, correct, and instruct us in justice, that we
may serve God faithfully, and be ever ready for good works.
2. They sustain our patience in suffering, and our hope of eter
nal life, by many promises, and by the example of Jesus Christ
and His saints.
Why is God called the God of patience, comfort, and hope ?
1. Because He looks with patience and long-suffering upon
our sinful lives.
2. Because He gives us grace to carry our
cross with patience and joy, and removes our despair by spiritual
3. Because He gives us hope that after this life we
shall possess Him, the object of our desire.
O God of patience, comfort, and hope, fill our hearts with joy and peace, and grant that we may become perfect in all good works by faith, hope, and charity, and that we may attain the promised salvation.
GOSPEL. Matt. xi. 2-10.
At that time : When John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples, he said to Him : Art Thou He that art to come, or look we for another? And Jesus making answer said to them : Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached to them : And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in Me. And when they went their way, Jesusbegan to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold, they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? a prophet? Yea, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written : Behold I send My angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee.
Why was St. John cast into prison?
Because he rebuked King Herod, who was living in adultery with the wife of his stepbrother. This teaches us that we should not be deterred from our duty, though great suffering and misfortune should thereby befall us. Is it not nobler and more profitable to our salvation to be a martyr for truth, as St. John was, rather than to gain favor with the world by timidly looking on, or by deceitful flattery?
Why did St. John send his disciples to Jesus?
St. John sent his disciples to Christ so that they, too, might be convinced that He was the Messias. Superiors and parents should learn from this to see that their dependents and children are well instructed in the faith.
Why did Christ merely say to the disciples of St. John : “Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen : the blind see, the lame walk”, etc. ?
Because they ought to have been convinced from the miracles He wrought, which were the fulfilment of the prophecies, that He was the promised Messias.
What was the object of the question, “What went you out to see?” which Our Saviour asked?
1. To praise the constancy of St. John, who was not to be
deterred from exercising his sacred functions either by the com
mands of Herod or through fear of imprisonment and death.
2. To approve the austere life of St. John, that we should thereby
be encouraged to crucify the flesh and to do penance.
Why did Our Saviour say that St. John was more than a prophet?
Because he was destined to see the Messias, to preach to men, and declare Him to be the Saviour of the world. And as he was a messenger of God, to announce the coming of Christ and prepare His way, he was called an angel (Malach. iii. T).
Why did Jesus add,“Blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in Me”?
On account of those who would be scandalized at His humility, His poverty, His ignominious suffering and death upon the cross, and who would, accordingly, despise and reject Him; although the more He humbled Himself for them the more they ought rather to love and honor Him.
Why does the Church set before us this gospel?
In order that we, like the disciples of St. John, may, by His works, recognize Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and that we may make ourselves worthy of the grace of redemption by doing penance earnestly and firmly, thus preparing the way of the Lord in our hearts.
Consolation in Adversities and Afflictions.
What can and should console us in adversity?
1. A firm belief that everything is ordered by God s wise
providence, and that no evil can befall us except by His per
mission, Who never allows us to suffer more than is for our
2. That if we call upon Him in adversity God will helpus,
whenever it is expedient for our salvation. Thus to
encourage us He says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I
will deliver thee” (Ps. xlix. 15); and, “If God be for us, who is
against us?” (Rom. viii. 31); and “Can a woman forget her infant
so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? and if she should
forget, yet will not I forget thee : behold, I have graven thee in My
hands” (Isaias xlix. 15, 16).
3. That it is useless to resist Divine Providence, for all who have done so
have been filled with shame and ignominy : “Who hath resisted Him and
hath had peace?” (Job ix. 4.) 4. That our sufferings when borne with patience
and submission lose their sharpness, and bring us merit and reward. “For
that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for
us, above measure exceedingly, an eternal weight of glory” (II. Cor. iv.
– Goffine's Devout Instructions