Catholic IrelandLiturgical Readings for : Friday, 8th December, 2023
Next Sunday's Readings
08-12 The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemnity
This feast celebrates Mary as a person of singular grace was preserved free of original sin
in view of the merits of Jesus, her son and Saviour.
A reading from the book of Genesis 3:9-15. 20
I will make you enemies of each other: your offspring and her offspring.
After Adam had eaten from the tree the Lord God called to the man.
‘Where are you?‘ he asked.
‘I heard the sound of you in the garden;’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’
‘Who told you that you were naked?‘ he asked.
‘Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?’
The man replied,
‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it’.
Then the Lord God asked the woman,
‘What is this you have done?‘
The woman replied,
‘The serpent tempted me and I ate’.
Then the Lord God said to the serpent,
‘Because you have done this,
‘Be accursed beyond all cattle, all wild beasts.
You shall crawl on your belly and eat dust every day of your life.
I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring.
It will crush your head and you will strike its heel’.
The man named his wife ‘Eve’ because she was the mother of all those who live.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 97
Response Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders.
1 Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm have brought salvation. Response
2 The Lord has made known his salvation; has shown his justice to the nations.
He has remembered his truth and love for the house o f Israel. Response
3 All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy. Response
A reading from the letter of St Paul to the Ephesians 1:3-6. 11-12
Before the world was made, God chose us in Christ.
Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.
Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ,
to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence,
determining that we should become his adopted sons,
through Jesus Christ for his own kind purposes,
to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved,
And it is in him that we were claimed as God’s own, chosen from the beginning,
under the predetermined plan of the one who guides all things
as he decides by his own will; chosen to be, for his greater glory,
the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Gospel Acclamation Lk 1: 28
Hail, Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 1:26-38
You are to conceive and bear a son.
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her,
‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’
She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her,
‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour.
Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob forever and his reign will have no end.’
Mary said to the angel,
‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’
‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’, the angel answered , ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’
‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,‘ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’
And the angel left her.
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Gospel Reflection Dec 8th Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception Luke 1:26-38
Gerard Manley Hopkins, in his poem, ‘The Blessed Virgin compared to the air we breathe’, concludes with a prayer to Mary, ‘Be thou then, O thou dear Mother, my atmosphere; My happier world, wherein To wend and meet no sin’. Today’s feast celebrates Mary as that happier world wherein we meet no sin. She was untouched by that sin of Adam referred to at the beginning of today’s first reading. Because Adam rebelled against God’s will for his life, he was uncomfortable in God’s presence. He hid from God and God had to call out to him, ‘Where are you?’ Mary had no reason to hide from God because she was always open to doing God’s will. She lived her life in the light of God’s presence. She was, in that sense, full of God. It was because Mary was so full of God from the first moment of her conception that she could respond to God’s call to her through the angel Gabriel with the words, ‘Let what you have said be done to me’.
The principal church in our Diocese is in Marlborough Street in Dublin city. We usually call it the Pro-Cathedral. However, its official title is Saint Mary’s (the Immaculate Conception). We don’t often speak of Mary as Saint Mary. We have other ways of referring to her. Yet, today’s feast celebrates Mary’s sainthood, her sanctity. We consider her the greatest of all the saints because we believe that she was holy from the first moment of her conception. No more than any of the other saints, Mary was not removed from the struggles and sufferings of the human condition. Something of her struggle comes through in today’s gospel reading. She was initially deeply disturbed by the words of the angel Gabriel. She was full of questions in response to Gabriel’s good news, ‘How can this come about?’ Luke goes on to tell us in his gospel that Simeon announced to her that a sword would pierce her soul. According to the gospel of John, she stood at the foot of the cross suffering the agony of watching her only Son die a slow and painful death. It was in the midst of all the struggles and pains of life that she lived out her ‘yes’ to God’s will for her life.
Mary’s holiness from her conception does not remove her from us. She is our companion on our pilgrim journey. She is given to us as a perpetual help. That is why, in the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer, we ask her to pray for us ‘sinners’ now and at the hour of our death. Paul reminds us in the second reading that before the world was made God ‘chose us in Christ to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence’. Paul spells out there our calling from the beginning of time. Mary has lived that calling to the full; she was holy, living through love in God’s presence. We look to her to help us to live out that same calling. In the words of the Preface of today’s Mass, she is an advocate of grace for God’s people, for all of us. She prays for us for the grace we need to be as generous as she was in responding to God’s purpose for our lives.
The Scripture Readings are taken from The Jerusalem Bible, published 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd. and used with the permission of the publishers. http://dltbooks.com/
The Scripture Reflection is made available with our thanks from his book Reflections on the Weekday Readings 2021, 2024: The Word is near to you, on your lips and in your heart by Martin Hogan and published by Messenger Publications 2022/23, c/f www.messenger.ie/bookshop/