Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Second Sunday of Advent—7 December AD 2008

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Blessing of the Advent Wreath


Epistle: Romans xv: 4-13

Brethren:   We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.  For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.”  What things soever 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 received you unto the honor of God.  For I say that Christ Jesus was the minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made  unto the  fathers.  But 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 says, "Rejoice  ye Gentiles  with His people."  And again, "Praise the Lord, all  ye Gentiles,  and magnify  Him all  ye people."  And again, Isaias says,  "There shall be a root of Jesse, and He shall rise up to rule the  Gentiles; in  Him the  Gentiles shall hope."  Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope and in the power of the Holy Ghost.


Gospel: Matthew xi: 2-10

At that time, when  John had  heard in  prison of  the works of Christ, sending  two of  his disciples,  he said  to Him, "Art Thou He that is to come, or shall we look for another?"  And Jesus, answering, 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  is not  scandalized in  Me."   And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, "What did you  go 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?  Yes, 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.'"

Ave Maria!
“Behold I send My angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee.”

    To put things in perspective, today’s Gospel finds John the Baptist in King Herod’s prison, not long before John’s death by decapitation.  John has sent his disciples to Jesus, ostensibly on a mission to determine whether or not Jesus was the expected Messiah, “the one who is to come.”  Now, common sense tells us that John already knew exactly who Jesus was.  John is the one who had been baptizing in the Jordan River, who told the crowds that he was there to “make straight the way of the Lord,” quoting the messianic prophet Isaias.[1].  It was this same John, who on seeing Jesus approach, identified Him as “the Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world”—meaning that Jesus would be offered as a sacrificial lamb, a victim for our sins:[2]  “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.”[3]  This is the same John who saw the heavens open, the Dove descend, and the Voice say, “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”[4]

    John, whom we can recognize as being the last prophet of the Old Testament, knew precisely who Jesus was.  John was he of whom it is written, “Behold I send My angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee.”  To the very end of his life, John prepared the way of the Lord.  In this case he sent two of his own people, making them think that they were on a mission to discover Jesus’ identity, so that by encountering and investigating Jesus for themselves, they would be far more secure in their belief in Him, than they would have been if they knew Jesus only through the words of John.  People tend to retain belief far more in what they have discovered for themselves, than in what they have been told by others.

    During the Advent season, as again we will be in Lent, we are exposed to New Testament readings which quote the messianic prophets of the Old Testament.  Jesus Himself, and the writers of the Epistles and Gospels, quoted these prophets in order to demonstrate to the Jewish people that our Lord’s role on earth was that of the Messiah promised and described in many of the books of their holy Scriptures.

    The quote about God “sending His angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee” was from the Book of Malachi, a prophet who lived at the end of the Babylonian Exile, when the Jews were beginning to reclaim Jerusalem and the Temple.  God sent him as an angel—a messenger—to warn the returning priests and levites that in the Temple of God the sacrifices were to be offered exactly as prescribed in the Law—and that only true doctrine was to proceed from their mouths to the ears of God’s people.[5] 

    God sent Malachi as an angel—a messenger—to warn the returning people that they must give up the adultery which had become so common among them in captivity, when they exchanged their lawfully wedded Jewish wives to marry idolatrous foreign women.  Through Malachi, God spoke against divorce with vehemence not found elsewhere in the Old Testament—a vehemence that would return only with the coming of Christ.  God will be “swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, the adulterers, the perjurers;  those who defraud the hired man of his wages, those who defraud the widow and the orphan;  those who turn away the stranger;  those who cease to fear” God Himself.[6]

    “Authentic worship, doctrine, and morality,” God demands through His angel messenger Malachi.

    But our Lord’s reference to John the Baptist as the “Angel sent before His face,” is most significant for those of us who are not the descendents of Abraham.  Malachi would be the final prophet before John the Baptist to speak of the part of the Gentiles—the non-Jews—in God’s plan of salvation.  In the letter we read today to the Romans, Saint Paul quotes both David and Isaias prophesying the inclusion of the Gentiles among God’s people.

    Malachi goes a step further, revealing that God might be displeased with the sacrifices of the Temple, and that He would look away toward the Nations.  “For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.”[7]  Malachi thus prophesied nothing less than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—the “clean oblation” without the stench of burning flesh as at Jerusalem—a Holy Sacrifice that would be offered everywhere from east to west;  not just at Jerusalem; not just for Jews, but for Gentiles as well.

    Malachi thus prophesied nothing less than the “Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world.”

    Let me leave you with two thoughts for this second week of Advent.  The first thought is embodied in the beginning of the Epistle as I read it to you this morning (those of you reading your missals noticed that I read a few extra verses at the beginning):

“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.  For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on Me.”  That is to say, they fell upon Christ.

    In Advent, we are waiting for the coming of the Christ, the one who would take upon Himself the reproaches that are due to us because of the way in which we sometimes reproach God—we are waiting for the Redeemer who would take the sins of mankind upon Himself;  thereby pleasing the redeemed;  thereby pleasing His Father;  but doing nothing which brought Him pleasure in the earthly sense, but much toil and suffering.  Saint Paul asks us to imitate Christ, doing good for out neighbors;  doing what we can to bring about their salvation;  at the expense of the worldly happiness that so many crave, even before the birth of our Savior when everyone should be happy.  As we have discussed before, the joy of Advent should be found in penance, prayer, and good works.

    The second thought for this second week of Advent relates to the way Saint John sent his remaining disciples to Jesus—urging them to find out about Jesus for themselves, so that their faith might be strong.  Those of you with young people at home might well do the same.  Give them the opportunity to learn more about Jesus Christ.  Bring them to Mass and religious instruction, of course—but go beyond that.  Read them the accounts of our Lord’s birth in the Scriptures, answer their questions, pause to take note with them of the nativity scene in your living room (or in the church, or over at the fire station), let them explore the faith, and help them to understand the “reason for the season.”

    Even if there are no children at home, do these things for yourself, getting to know Jesus better for the strength of your own faith;  for the good of your own soul.

 “Behold I send My angel before Thy face,
who shall prepare Thy way before Thee.”

During Advent, each and every one of us has the opportunity 
to be a messenger‑angel, like the Prophet Malachi of the Old Testament
or Saint John the Baptist in the New.

Do good for the edification of your neighbor.

Help someone to discover Jesus Christ—discover Him for yourself!


[1]   Isaias xl: 3.

[2]   John i: 29.

[3]   Ps. xlviii: 10, quoted in today’s epistle, Romans xv. 3.

[4]   Matthew iii: 17.

[5]   Malachias i & ii.

[6]   Malachias iii: 5.

[7]   Malachias i: 11.



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