The Mass Readings for 2017
(as in the Irish Liturgical Calendar, edited by Patrick Jones)

18 December, 2017
Monday of Week 3 of Advent

1st Reading: Jeremiah 23:5-8

A righteous descendants of David will rule with wisdom and justice.

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: "The Lord is our righteousness."

Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, "As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt," but "As the Lord lives who brought out and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had driven them. " Then they shall live in their own land.

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

Joseph comes to believe in the miracle that Jesus is God’s presence among us, "Emmanu-El."

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.


A loyal servant

God sent His Son to be the Saviour of the human race, by bringing forgiveness and establishing justice. In the Jeremiah’s imagery, he is the "righteous Branch from David’s descendants, by whom his people will be saved. In the Gospel, Jesus is described as the one who saves his people from their sins. To save us is why he came! In order to do so, although he was God from eternity, he took on our humanity, fully and in the flesh, by being born of a mother.

As foster-father of Jesus and as husband to Mary, Joseph played his part faithfully in this story. As God prepared this quiet, faithful man for his role and mission, so are we too prepared for what is asked of us. This principle — that God prepares individuals for a mission in life — is true for everyone who is prepared to be of service. We are chosen and called to holiness. God has prepared us for works of service and of live; by giving us Jesus to be our Lord and guide, by calling us to the saving waters of Baptism, by giving us the support of the Church and its Sacraments, and by strengthening us to cooperate with His saving will.

Today we find Joseph struggling to do the right thing, what he believed God wanted of him. Mary’s unexplained pregnancy left him in a very difficult situation. Presuming that her pregnancy indicated she had been unfaithful to him, Joseph found himself torn between what he understood God’s law required him to do, viz. divorce Mary, and his own affectionate feelings for her. In this confusing situation, the gospel tells us that Joseph received guidance from the Lord, – guidance he promptly followed. The complex situation in which Joseph found himself is not unlike the kind of situations in which many of us find ourselves from time to time. In so many of life’s situations the best way forward is not always immediately clear. Like Joseph, we can find ourselves torn between what our head is telling us and what our heart is saying to us. The gospel today invites us to have something of the openness of Joseph to the Lord’s guidance. While he received that guidance through an angel, the Lord’s guidance will come to us through more ordinary means, such as through a friend in whom we confide. Their perspective on the situation we struggle with can often bring a new and a fresh light. We can also experience the Lord’s guidance through prayer, letting the Lord to enlighten our minds and hearts so that we can move forward in the light that he provides.