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4 sun a advent orig4th Sunday Advent A
“GOD IS WITH US”
“Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory” (Ps.23:7.10)
KERYGMA: During Advent we sing “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” Who is Emmanuel? He is
Jesus Christ in our midst, as the Risen Lord.
“O come, O come Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.”
This is fulfilment of an ancient prophecy of Isaiah: Ha’almah harah weyoledet ben (Is.7:14), “a
maiden is with child and will give birth to a son”. The child is to be a sign of salvation.
Isaiah tells Ahaz that his Davidic line will not end. A son will come, “called Immanuel, meaning
‘God-with-us’”(Is.7:14), possibly prophetic of the birth of his son, good king Hezekiah. Ultimately,
the fulfilment is Jesus Christ, the full presence and revelation of God in the Word made flesh.
The psalms are also prophetic of the coming of the divine king. We have to be open and “let the
Lord enter!”(Ps.23:7,10). Welcome him into our hearts and homes.“He is the king of glory” (Ibid.)
God wants to be with us. Do we want to be with him? Are we among those “who seek the face of
God” (Ps.23:6). It means committing ourselves “with clean hands and pure heart” (Ps.23:6).
We see the face of God in “Jesus Christ” (Rom.1:3). Paul sees him as a son of man, “a de-
scendant of David” (Rom.1:3). Born of the flesh, he is king of a nation, the Jews.
But he is more. He is the “Son of God” (Rom.1:4), born of the Spirit and so king of all nations. We
have here expression of early Christian belief, expressing Jesus Christ as true God and true man.
Narratives of Jesus’ childhood were written into the Christian tradition long after the proclamation
of Easter (Kerygma). It shows the humanity of Jesus, “born of the Virgin Mary” (Matt.1:18).
Thanks to “Joseph, Son of David” (Matt.1:20), Jesus legally belongs to the royal line of David.
The Gospel proclaims as well the divinity of Jesus who “was conceived by the Holy Spirit”
(Matt.1:20). and he will be called “Emmanuel which means God-is-with-us” (Matt.1:23).
SCRIPTURE: In the Gospel (Matt.1:18-25) we see fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy and Emmanuel.
LITURGY: The Gospel reading is a profession of faith, i.e. Jesus is Son of David and Son of God.
DOCTRINE: The mystery of the Incarnation affirms Jesus Christ as true God and true man.
WITNESS: Consider ways of opening your heart to the Lord who comes to dwell in our midst.
“O come, thou dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight:
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.”
FOR OUR CHILDREN:
Bible: Share with the children the Gospel text of today and how it connects with Isaiah’s prophecy.
Worship: Discuss the different ways that God-is-with-us, especially in the Eucharistic celebration.
Teaching: Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary (Apostles Creed)
Witness: Join in singing: “Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to save you Israel.” (PHB.2).
FOR TEENAGERS (Shared Christian Praxis)
How would you sum up ‘Emmanuel’ as in the title of Jesus Christ?
Can you share some, if any, experiences of your being with the Lord or close to him?
Give some of the Church’s teaching on the Incarnation and its implications.
How does your life story tie in with the story of Christ and the story of salvation?
Can you plan for the future how to work with the Lord and Church in building the Kingdom?
ADVENT: “Jesus, born of Mary who was betrothed to Joseph” (Catechesis with use of Jesse Tree)
ADVENT CALENDAR: (Each day up to Christmas, an object or picture is placed on the Jesse Tree).
4th Sunday Advent: Mary and Joseph – are examples of marriage, sacred spouses to each
other and parents to their child, basis of being holy family. Read Matt.1:18-25)
Monday: Praying Hands – The Human person, God’s image, at prayer is the greatest act of
creation in closeness to God. Jesus came and taught us how to pray. (Matt.6:9-14) Lamb. The Israelites sacrificed a Paschal lamb. This is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (Read Exod.12:21-28; Jn.1:29)
Wednesday: Star – The six-pointed star is the symbol of the royal house of David. It also repre-
sents the heritage of Christ, a descendant of David. (IChron.2:13-15. Matt.1:1-17) Manna – Bread come down from heaven which fed God’s people in the desert. It
It symbolizes the true Bread, Jesus who gives eternal life. (Read Ps.78:24; Jn.6)
Shepherds – Such were the ancient Israelites. Jesus is ultimately the Good Shep-
herd. See how shepherds of Bethlehem are first to receive the Good News. (Lk.2:8) Angels – are God’s messengers to Mary, Joseph and shepherds of Bethlehem. At
the resurrection they are messengers in the empty tomb. (Lk.1:26f; Matt.1:20,28:3)
LIFE EXPERIENCE: ‘Morning Motivation’ (sent by friend & edited).
When I woke up this morning I was asking myself;
What are some of the secrets of a good life?
I found the answer right here in my very room.
#It was said by the fan: Be cool. Be a humble servant (handmaid) of the Lord.
#It was said by the roof: Aim high. Be the glory of God, person (man) fully alive.
#It was said by the window: See the world. Take a look at God’s creation. #It was said by the clock: Every minute is precious. Don’t waste time, see it as kairotic (God given). It was said by the mirror: Reflect before you act. Look harder for the image of God. It was said by the calendar: Be up-to-date. Are you walking with the Lord? It was said by the door: Push hard for your goals. Be apostolic, go out and spread the Good News. AND NOT FORGET WHAT TH CARPET SAID: KNEEL DOWN AND PRAY. # Homiletic rhetoric: Anaphora: repetition of word or group of words at beginning of several consecutive sentences or
verses to emphasize an image or a concept. E.g. from above is: # ‘It was said by…’
Angelina spelt Christmas the short way: Xmas. Did she know that she was using the ancient
Greek letter Χ (Chi), the first letter in the spelling of Christ: ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (Christos)? How would
Angelina feel about short-spelling her name with the first letter of the Greek alphabet, Α (Alpha)?
THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION: ‘Emmanuel’
Emmanuel is two words: Imanu (ונמע) meaning ‘with us’ and El (לא) meaning ‘God’. Full meaning
is ‘God with us.’ Emmanuel is a kerygmatic word, stating fact and a promise that God is with us.
Watchword: “Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son” (Mt.1:23)
ןב תדלין הרה המלעה הנה Hineh ha’almah hara veyoledet ben. Ιδου ’η παρθενος εν γαστρι εξει και τεξεται ’υιον.
Idou he parthenos en gastri eksei kai teksetai huion.
Ecce, virgo in utero habebit pariet et filium.
EARLY CHRISTIAN LITERATURE
Acts of Peter (150-200 A.D.)
The Acts of Peter is one of the earliest of the apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, originally com-
posed in Greek during the second half of the 2nd century. Academics point to it being based on
the Acts of John and probably written by Leucius Charinus, a companion of John. Whoever the
author, he had access to canonical sources: Gospels, Epistles, and Acts. There are three main
parts to these Acts: Chapters 1-3 involve Paul, who is leaving Rome in order to travel to Spain
(and thus opens the way for the story to focus on Peter). Chapters 4-32 describe the contest
between Peter and Simon Magus in Rome. Chapters 33-41 describe the martyrdom of Peter.
The text details the encounter between Peter and Simon Magus, who is a gnostic converting follo-
wers through deception. Peter challenges him to a contest to prove whose works are from a div-
ine source and whose are mere trickery. Peter strikes him down with the power of God and he is
injured with a broken leg. The faithful stone him to death bringing the angel of Satan to his end.
In these Acts, Peter performs many miracles, from making dogs and infants talk to the resurrection
of people and smoked fish. Rome is the setting. Some accounts of women are given, preferring
paralysis to sex. Peter’s own daughter was paralyzed in order to thwart a suitor. Peter reversed
the paralysis but then returned her to the paralytic state so her chastity could be maintained. Later,
when Peter is to flee the city, he sees an apparition of Jesus and takes it as a message to stay
and be crucified to see Jesus again in Heaven. Peter requests to be crucified upside-down
because he does not believe that a man is worthy to be killed in the same manner as Jesus. “And
thence the brethren were rejoiced with one mind, exulting in the Lord, glorifying the God and Savi-
our of our Lord Jesus Christ with the Holy Ghost, unto whom be glory, world without end. Amen."
Some extracts from fragments below:
The Act of Peter On the first day of the week, that is on the Lord's day, a multitude gathered together
and brought unto Peter many sick that he might heal them. And one of the multitude ventured to say
to Peter: Lo, in our presence thou hast made many blind to see and the deaf to hear and the lame to
walk, and hast succoured the weak and given them strength: but wherefore hast thou not succoured
thy daughter, the virgin, which grew up beautiful and hath believed in the name of God? For behold,
her one side is wholly palsied, and she lieth there stretched out in the corner helpless. We see them
that have been healed by thee: thine own daughter thou hast neglected. (Coptic Fragment)
A gardener had a daughter, and begged Peter to pray for her. Peter answered that the Lord would
give her that which was useful for her soul. Immediately the girl fell dead. (The Gardener’s Daughter)
The brethren repented, entreating Peter to fight against Simon: (who said he was the power of God,
and lodged in Marcellus’ house, whom he convinced by his charms) saying: Believe us, brother
Peter: there was no man so wise as Marcellus…all the poor call him their patron, and his house was
called the house of strangers and of poor, … before our eyes, brother Peter, we report to thee, how
the great mercy of this man is turned to blasphemy; for if he had not turned, neither should we have
departed from the holy faith of God our Lord. And now doth this Marcellus in anger repent him of his
good deeds, saying: All this substance have I spent in all this time, vainly believing that I gave it for
the knowledge of God! So that if any stranger cometh to the door of his house, he smiteth him with a
staff and biddeth him be beaten, saying: Would God I had not spent so much money upon these
impostors: and yet more doth he say, blaspheming. But if there abide in thee any mercy of our Lord
and aught of the goodness of his commandments, do thou succour the error of this man who hath
done so many alms-deeds unto the servants of God. (The Vercelli Acts VIII)
And Peter saw a herring hung in a window, took it and said to the people: If ye now see this swim-
ming in the water, will ye believe in him whom I preach? And they said: we will believe. Then he said:
In thy name, O Jesu Christ, in the sight of all these live and swim like a fish. And he cast the herring
into the bath, and it lived and began to swim. And the people saw the fish swimming, and it did not
so at that hour only, lest it should be said that it was a delusion (phantasm), but he made it to swim
for a long time, so that they brought much people from all quarters and showed them the herring
that was made a living fish, so that certain of the people even cast bread to it; and they saw that it
was whole. And seeing this, many followed Peter and believed in the Lord. (The Vercelli Acts XIII)
When night fell, Peter, waking, beheld Jesus clad in vesture of brightness, smiling, saying unto him:
Already much people of the brotherhood returned through me and through signs wrought in my
name. Thou shalt have a contest of the faith on the sabbath and many more Gentiles and Jews shall
be converted in my name who was reproached, mocked and spat upon. I will be present with thee
when thou ask for signs, and convert many: thou shalt have Simon opposing thee with works of his
father; and all this shall be shown to be charms and sorcery. But slack thou not, and whom-soever I
shall send unto thee thou shalt establish in my name. And when it was light, he told the bre-thren
how the Lord had appeared unto him and what he had commanded him: (The Vercelli Acts XIV)
And when they hanged him after the manner he desired, he began to say: hearken to that which I de-
clare unto you as I hang here. Learn the mystery of nature and begining of all things, what it was. For
the first man, whose race I bear in my appearance, fell head downwards, and showed forth a manner
of birth as was not heretofore: for it was dead. Then, being pulled down also cast his first state down
upon the earth established this whole disposition of all things, being hanged an image of creation
where he made the things of right hand into left hand and left hand into right, and changed all marks
of their nature, so he thought those things not fair to be fair, and those in truth evil, to be good. Con-
cerning which the Lord saith in mystery: Unless ye make things of the right hand as of the left, and
those of the left as those of right, and those that are above as those below, and those that are behind
as those that are before, ye shall not have knowedge of the kingdom. (The Vercelli Acts XXVII)
Nero, learning that Peter was departed out of this life, blamed prefect Agrippa… for he desired to
punish him more sorely and with greater torment, because Peter had made disciples of certain of
them… said unto him: Nero, thou canst not now persecute nor destroy the servants of Christ:.And
Nero, being greatly affrighted by such a vision, abstained from harming the disciples at that time
when Peter also departed this life. And thenceforth the brethren were rejoicing with one mind and
exulting in the Lord, glorifying the God and Saviour (Father?) of our Lord Jesus Christ with the Holy
Ghost, unto whom be glory, world without end. Amen. (The Vercelli Acts XLI)
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