Pondering the Word

4th Sunday of Advent: Luke 1:26-38

12-20-2020Pondering the WordFr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS

The second and third Sundays of Advent, we have been reflecting on the figure of John the Baptist, but now Holy Mother Church turns our attention toward the figure of Mary.

In the first reading, we hear about David wanting to build God a house. The ark of the covenant was still stored in a tent. But God stops him and says through the prophet Nathan that God himself will build a house for David, and his heir shall rule forever. We Christians believe that this heir who shall rule in the house of David forever is Jesus. And the house for Jesus or true temple is Mary, who we call the ark of the covenant. Mary says yes to the angel, and her yes allows Jesus to come into the world and become our savior.

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3rd Sunday of Advent: John 1:6-8,19-28

12-13-2020Pondering the WordFr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS

Happy Gaudete Sunday! Gaudete is a plural imperative that literally means “ya’ll rejoice” (if you are from Texas) or “yinz rejoice” (if you are from Pittsburgh). What reason do we have to rejoice on this third Sunday of Advent?

Gaudete is the first word in the entrance antiphon taken from Philippians 4:4-5: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near.” St. Paul is writing to a Church in a Roman Colony that has suffered some of the most grievous persecutions and imprisonments in the early Church. This Church is hurting and sorrowful, possibly ready to give up, and yet he surprises them in their liturgy where the letter was first read with a message of joy. This is why he needs to repeat: “again, I say rejoice.” This is like someone coming up to you after a great tragedy in your life and saying, “Be glad, be joyful, be delighted!”

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2nd Sunday of Advent: Mark 1:1-8

12-06-2020Pondering the WordFr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS

The first week of Advent focuses on the Lord’s second coming at the end of time. The second and third weeks of Advent focus on John the Baptist's appearance proclaiming the first coming of Jesus. Let us look at what the Baptist has to say to us.

We know from the Gospel of Luke that John was from a priestly family because Zechariah, his father was a priest. Based on some interesting details in scripture and the discoveries of Qumran some scholars speculate that John the Baptist was an Essene and that Zechariah and Elizabeth gave their young son over to the Essene community in Qumran to be brought up in this monastic community. The Essenes rejected the world and created a monastic community in the desert near the Dead Sea, waiting for two messiahs, one kingly messiah and one priestly messiah. They practiced ritual washings or baptisms daily that they believed gave their followers purification from sins and imparted the Spirit of the Lord.

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