Fourth Sunday of Advent (B)
December 24, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.






Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading 2 Sm 7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16 

When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
"Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!"
Nathan answered the king,
"Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you."
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
"Go, tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?'

"It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock 
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.

The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 89:2-3,4-5,27,29 

R/. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.


Second Reading Rom 16:25-27 

Brothers and sisters:
To him who can strengthen you,
according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages
but now manifested through the prophetic writings and,
according to the command of the eternal God,
made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith,
to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ
be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Alleluia Lk. 1:38


Gospel Lk. 1:26-38 

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin's name was Mary.

And coming to her, he said,
"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
"Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
"Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end."

But Mary said to the angel,
"How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?"
And the angel said to her in reply,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word."
Then the angel departed from her.

Catena Nova

If he whom you are to bear, [Mary], is truly God made flesh, then rightly do we call you God’s mother. For you have truly given birth to God. Enclosed within your womb is God himself. He makes his abode in you and comes forth from you like a bridegroom, winning joy for all and bestowing God’s light on all. You, O Virgin, are like a clear and shining sky, in which God has set his tent. From you he comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber. Like a giant running his course, he will run the course of his life which will bring salvation for all who will ever live, and extending from the highest heavens to the end of them, it will fill all things with divine warmth and with life-giving brightness (St. Sophronius).

As David had once ruled the people with temporal authority, so Christ would now lead them to the eternal kingdom by his spiritual grace…. The house of Jacob here refers to the universal Church which, through its faith in and witness to Christ, shares the heritage of the patriarchs. This may apply either to those who are physical descendants of the patriarchal families, or to those who come from gentile nations and are reborn in Christ by the waters of baptism. In this house Christ shall reign for ever, and “of his kingdom there will be no end.” During this present life, Christ rules in the Church. By faith and love he dwells in the hearts of his elect, and guides them by his unceasing care toward their heavenly reward. In the life to come, when their period of exile on earth is ended, he will exercise his kingship by leading the faithful to their heavenly country. There, for ever inspired by the vision of his presence, their one delight will be to praise and glorify him (St. Bede the Venerable).


Hasten, O Lady, to give your answer ; hasten to speak the word so longed for by all on earth, in limbo, and in heaven. Yea, the King and Lord of all things, Who has greatly desired your beauty, desires as eagerly your word of consent, by which He has  purposed to save the world. He whom you have pleased by your silence will now be more gratified by your reply....Why do you delay ? Why are you fearful ? Believe confess receive. Let humility put on courage, and timidity confidence. It is certainly by no means fitting that virginal simplicity should forget prudence....Open, Blessed Virgin, your heart to faith, your lips to compliance, your bosom to your Creator.  Behold, the desired of all nations stands at the gate and knocks. Oh, suppose He were to pass by while you delay ! How would you begin again with sorrow to seek Him whom your soul loveth ! Arise run open ! Arise by faith, run by devotion, open by acceptance. Mary speaks. “ Behold the hand maid of the Lord, may it be done unto me according to thy word” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).


O branch of freshest green, O hail! Within the windy gusts of saints upon a quest you swayed and sprouted forth.

When it was time, you blossomed in your boughs—

“Hail, hail!” you heard, for in you seeped the sunlight’s warmth like balsam’s sweet perfume.

For in you bloomed so beautiful a flow’r, whose fragrance wakened all the spices from their dried-out stupor.

They all appeared in full viridity. Then rained the heavens dew upon the grass

and all the earth was cheered, for from her womb she brought forth fruit

and for the birds up in the sky have nests in her.

Then was prepared that food for humankind, the greatest joy of feasts!

O Virgin sweet, in you can ne’er fail any joy. All this Eve chose to scorn.

But now, let praise ring forth unto the Highest! (St. Hildegard of Bingen)


The Father bending down to this beautiful creature, who was so unaware of her own beauty, willed that she be the Mother, in time, of Him, Whose Father He is, in eternity. Then the Spirit of love, Who presides over all of God’s works, came upon her; the Virgin said her fiat: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word” and the greatest of mysteries, was accomplished! (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity)

When Mary Immaculate, the finest and most fragrant flower of all creation, said in answer to the angel’s greeting: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” (Luke 1:38), she accepted the honour of divine motherhood, which was, in that moment, realised within her.  And we, born once in our father Adam, formerly the adopted children of God but fallen from that high estate, are now once more brothers and sisters, adopted children of the Father, restored to His adoption by the redemption which was already begun…. What sublimity, what tender love is this first mystery! When we reflect on this, we see that our chief and constant duty is, to thank the Lord who deigned to come to save us and for this purpose, made Himself human, our fellow human….Let the intention of our prayer, as we contemplate this first picture offered to our thoughts, be, besides a constant feeling of gratitude, a real and sincere effort to acquire humility, purity and ardent love for the Blessed Virgin, who provides the most precious example of all these virtues (Pope St. John XXIII).


Even today, God is still searching for hearts like Mary’s that are open to welcoming His invitation and providing hope, even when it’s hard. God continues to walk our neighbourhoods and our streets, He pushes in each place in search of hearts capable of listening to His invitation and making it become flesh here and now. In the end, the Lord continues to seek hearts like that of Mary, disposed to believe even in very extraordinary conditions. Just like He did with Mary, God also takes the initiative in our lives, inserting Himself into our daily struggles, anxieties and desires. It is precisely in the daily routine of our lives, that we receive the most beautiful announcement we can hear – Rejoice, the Lord is with you!” (Pope Francis).



         What was she doing?  The icon of the Annunciation Luke writes doesn't tell us.  Was she making wedding plans, she and her mother putting the finishing touches on her dress, or thinking whom to invite?  Perhaps she was reading from the Torah, or on her way to the synagogue?  Was she preparing a meal, dusting the furniture, doing the wash?  Someone I know thought she was saying the Rosary!  I told him I didn’t think so.  Or maybe it all happened in a dream —when “the angel of the Lord appeared unto Mary.”

         But one thing’s for sure: It happened in the most ordinary of circumstances. For nothing could be more ordinary than a town of Galilee called Nazareth when the virgin named Mary was faced with the most extraordinary event in human history occurred and “she conceived by the Holy Spirit.”  Whatever task was interrupted by Gabriel’s appearance to the handmaid of the Lord, it was, no doubt, the task at hand which occupied Mary the day she let it be done to [her] according to [the angel’s] word (cf. G).  And she received in her womb the mystery kept secret for long ages (II).
        She was not a woman deceived like King David into thinking God must be found in some extraordinary place, in the splendor of a temple he thought to build, believing the ark of God was unfit to dwell in a tent In his old age, David forgot how ordinary his life was when God chose him to be famous like the great ones of the earth.  He forgot how God took [him] from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of [God’s] people Israel (I).  Like Mary of Nazareth, so David of Bethlehem was interrupted by God coming into the midst of routine.  For God, I think, comes to us precisely there, in the rounds of daily life.
        Saint Francis De Sales once preached an Advent sermon, reminding his audience, “Our good is found in the present moment, which is today.  Our life is the today in which we are living; who can promise oneself a tomorrow?. . . . Absolutely no one--no matter who [s]he is.  Our life consists in today, in this present moment in which we are living, and we cannot promise or assure ourselves of any other than that which we now enjoy. . . . Our whole life really depends on each present moment when we hear what must be done.”  So like Mary the day the angel appeared to her: that was the day the world’s salvation hung on her response to the present moment.
        Living in the present moment is, of course, easier said than done.  For we tend to live in the past, or else the future.  We might look, for instance, to the past with nostalgia or regret.  People love to watchAmerican Movie Classics during the day, and Me TV in the evening.  A life full of reruns!  (I confess one of my favorite YouTube channels is called Recollection Road! Other people are always fretting about tomorrow, or else live in a fanciful future.  They are All of Us Are Dead types or just Star Trek: The Next Generation fans — now in reruns!  Whatever type you are, it's easy to prefer most anything to the humdrum world of today.
        Now there’s nothing wrong in itself, with looking back, or ahead.  After all, the present is the product of the past.  And woe to those who ignore its lessons and wisdom.  Likewise, the future is shaped by present choices.  Tomorrow doesn’t just happen; in many ways, the future is what we make of the present moment.  Yet, problems arise when the past or the future serve as places to escape from the present, wistfully wishing for what might have been “once upon a time,” dreamily longing for what might still be.  All of which makes us less aware of the present, where God calls us to live.
       Advent, above all, has called us in these all too brief weeks to live in the present moment, on the lookout for God coming to us now — in the time “between” Christ’s first and second coming.  Time to live with greater urgency— in gratitude for what has been, in hope for what shall be— but above all, in the here and now, attentive to God presently present.
        Advent has also been time spent with Mary as Emmanuel takes shape within her day by day, moment to moment, till the days of her confinement are at an end.  Mary, who surrendered herself to God’s will, not only in her yes to the angel’s message, but in each subsequent moment, with all the difficulties they would bring her: from the suspicions her pregnancy aroused, to the burdens of travel to Bethlehem, to the search for lodging, birth in a stable, through her exile into Egypt, to the loss of her Child in the Temple.  All the scenes we shall shortly contemplate in the Christmas season.
        Yet, through them all, Mary’s soul magnified the Lord, and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior, all the time practicing her obedience of faith in the present moment (II).  Just as we do in the Eucharist.  When we celebrate Christ who died and rose once in the past, who will come again in the future, but who meets us here and now in this present moment of grace.  To the only wise God, [then], through Jesus Christ, be glory forever and ever. Amen (II).

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that our hearts may be an authentic dwelling place for God and thus enable us to bring God's presence to all whom we encounter.

For confidence in God's providence: that in facing life's obstacles, we may place our trust in God for whom nothing is impossible.

For all believers: that we, like Mary, may ponder God's invitations and give our full yes to all that God asks of us so that God's will may be fulfilled for all the human family.

For hope in the face of fear: that God's faithfulness will free and strengthen us from every bondage and limit that our fears evoke.

For all who are waiting for God to overturn oppression and injustice: that God will free and strengthen persecuted Christians, people in refugee camps, and victims of violence so that they may experience justice and dignity.

For all who are isolated and alone, particularly those who are homebound or in nursing homes: that Christ may fill their emptiness and open our hearts to reach out to them.

For all who are away from home, particularly members of the military and relief workers: that God will keep them safe, help them fulfill their duties, and bring them home quickly.

For all who are suffering economically: that God will protect and guide those who are facing eviction, have lost employment, or who struggle to have enough to eat.

For peace: that the advent of the Prince of Peace may enlighten minds and hearts to resolve disputes with words and deeds of compassion, and turn human hearts from violence and domination.

Here in our midst, O God of mystery, you disclose the secret hidden for countless ages. For you we wait, for you we listen. Upon hearing your voice may we, like Mary, embrace your will and become a dwelling fit for your Word. Grant this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.(ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Antiphon

Offertory Hymn (Libera)

Ave Maria, gratia plena Sancta Maria gratia Ave Maria, mater Dei Maria, ora pro nobis Maria, pro nobis Ave Maria, mater Dei Maria, ora pro nobis Maria, pro nobis Ora, ora Ora pro nobis

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn (Gabriel’s Message; Old Basque Carol)


The angel Gabriel from heaven came. His wings as drifted snow his eyes as flame, "All hail" said he "thou lowly maiden Mary, Most highly favored lady," Gloria!

"For know a blessed mother thou shalt be, All generations laud and honor thee, Thy Son shall be Emanuel, by seers foretold, Most highly favored lady," Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head
" To me be as it pleaseth God," she said,
 "My soul shall laud and magnify his holy name. "
Most highly favored lady. Gloria!

Of her, Emanuel, the Christ was born
 In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn
 And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say: 
"Most highly favored lady," Gloria!