Tuesday, 16 December 2014

21/12/14 Do not be afraid!

Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Welcome back to a little liturgy.  This week we hear the beautiful story of the Annunciation.  The traditional Catholic prayer known as "the Angelus" starts off with this scene.  It is a particularly lovely prayer to use in the last week of Advent.  You can find it here: Angelus prayer . You may notice that the Collect for today is the same as the words at the end of this prayer.  I hope you find something useful in this week's a little liturgy and a little freedom from the hustle and bustle of the season.  

Summary of Liturgy of the Word

First Reading
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12,14,16
David feels uncomfortable that he is living in a nice house and that the ark of God is only in a tent.
God tells him (via Nathan) not to worry about this.  Instead, God will build David a strong house for the people of Israel.  He will look after them and "give them rest from all their enemies".  David's descendants will also be looked after.

Ps 88:2-5, 27, 29. R. Cf. v.2
I will sing forever of your love, O Lord.
The psalmists tells us of his belief that God's love lasts forever.

Second Reading
Romans 16:25-27
Paul talks about Jesus being the revelation of a mystery that has been secret for a long time.  He says that we should give glory to God and understand that Jesus is the Christ that scripture predicted.

Luke 1:26-38
Luke tells us the story of the Annunciation.  The angel Gabriel told Mary that she would have a son and that she was to call him "Jesus".  The Angel says that Jesus will be a great man and "his reign will have no end".  Mary is confused as she is not yet married but the angel reassures her and tells her that her cousin, Elizabeth will also have a baby.  Mary then accepts this and the angel leaves.


In the last week before Christmas Samuel tells us about king David and how God chose to protect him and make him a great king.  Jesus is "the offspring" of David and both Luke and Matthew trace Jesus' ancestors back to him.  It reminds us of Jesus' kingship and his Jewish heritage.  The psalmist continues to sing of David and how God promises to preserve his dynasty.   Paul's letter reinforces this link between the Old and New Testaments and he reminds us that Jesus' coming is a fulfilment of the predictions of scripture.
The Gospel today is very familiar to us.  It builds on the theme from last week about people accepting their roles with joy.  Mary was uncertain because her role as wife to Joseph was not yet established but she trusted God and agreed to his will.

Activity during Mass

Activity A
David was a young shepherd lad who defeated the huge warrior, Goliath with only his sling and the power of God.  He is an example of how goodness can triumph over evil.  He is also well known for composing psalms and is often drawn singing with a harp.  After a while, David became a powerful king.

In a similar way, Jesus was a carpenter from Nazareth and then surprised everyone by being a powerful king.  However, he did not become a king in the traditional way like David.  He taught us how to be part of the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus showed us how good can triumph over evil by the sacrifice on the cross.  Instead of a gold crown he had a crown of thorns.

Draw some of the events in the lives of Jesus and David and think how you can make some connections between them.  

             David                                                                           Jesus

              as a young shepherd                                                as a young carpenter

           singing psalms to praise God                                      teaching us about God

                killing Goliath                                                        dying on the cross


               becoming king                                                        rising from the dead

Activity B
At Christmas God became human.  We call this "the Incarnation".  Look out for the phrase in the Creed that describes this:

"for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man"

Every week, when we say these words, we bow our heads to show that we are talking about a very special moment.  On Christmas Day we will all kneel down when we say these words to show that this is the celebration of an amazing moment in history.

Other activities and resources

A)  Often we associate the book of psalms with David.  Find out a bit more about this book and what it contains.  Some of the most beautiful medieval books are books of psalms.  Look for the Ramsey Psalter and the Utrecht Psalter.

Many people pray the psalms everyday.  They use a book called a breviary and go through a cycle of psalms once every four weeks.  Choose one psalm that you like and try to learn part of it.

B)  Today we hear about the Annunciation.  Over the centuries many artists have portrayed this scene in their work.  You may find it on some of your Christmas cards this year.

Look at some of the pictures below:

paintings of the Annunciation

Often in these pictures there is an object or a change in surroundings to separate Mary from the angel.  Make a list of the different ways Mary and the angel are separated in some of these paintings.  Why do you think the painter does this?

Last week's question

Where can I find the story of Christmas in the Bible?

The story of Jesus being born that we are most familiar with is the account given by Luke  (Chp 2).  It includes the manger, swaddling clothes and the shepherds.  Matthew tells the story in less detail (Chp 1) but does go on to talk about the visit of the wise men (Chp 2).  The other two Gospels (Mark and John) start their stories later in Jesus' life.              

All the best!


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