Homily on the readings for Dec. 17, Friday of the III week of Advent
Today is the eighth day before Christmas, and we begin a sort of liturgical countdown towards Christmas day. Up until now, the readings and prayers for each day of Advent have been assigned according to the day of the week: such as, “Wednesday of the third week of Advent”. From now on, the liturgy for each of these eight days is determined by the calendar date. Today’s readings are not designated for Friday of the III Week of Advent, but for Dec. 17, as the eighth day before Christmas. The reason for this is that no matter what day of the week Christmas falls on, the eight days before it should be of special preparation.
The Gospel readings up until today have mostly been from the public life of Jesus, fulfilling the prophecies; now we begin the narratives leading up to His birth. Today we read a selective list of Jesus’ genealogy, showing how He fulfills the prophecies by being a son of King David from the tribe of Judah. We might recognize the “Alleluia” verses from now on, which are better known to us in an adapted form as the verses of the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. These ancient invocations of the Messiah will accompany us right up to Christmas Eve.
With all of this, we almost want to hold our breath to be ready for the trumpet blast of the angelic choir, the burst of joy and celebration of Christmas. This is like the moment in a theater when the lights have been turned down, the narrator begins the introduction, and we make the last preparations, settling into our chairs and turning off our cell phones to focus on the main event. As we enter this final countdown to the birth of our Savior, let us try to put aside any secular and worldly distractions. Of course, we might still have to do some shopping, send Christmas cards and make other preparations, but let’s try to keep the religious meaning of Christmas in our minds and hearts as much as possible. And let us put the last touches on the cradle we have been preparing for Jesus in our hearts, so that when He comes in just eight days, He and His mother will find a warm and welcoming place to make their home.