Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 17, 2011
Each week, a Dominican member of the Provincial Preaching Advisory board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.
St. Basil the Great, from Letter 236
The Tribe of Judah did not fail until he came for whom it was reserved, he who did not sit upon a material throne (as the kingdom of Judea had now been transferred to Herod, the son of Antipas, and to his sons, who divided Judea into four provinces when Pilate was governor). Christ’s indestructible kingdom is called the throne of David; on this the Lord sat. He himself is the “expectation of the nations” (Gen 49.10).
St. Bede, from Homily 3 on Advent
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, forever inspired by the vision of his presence, their sole delight will be to praise and glorify him.
Origen, from Commentary on Romans
Although the message is made known to all nations, it is not made known to all people, because only a few chosen ones are able to understand the wisdom and knowledge of God, of whom it is said: “Many are called, but few are chosen” (22.14).
St. John Chrysostom, from Homily 27 on Romans
St. Paul is releasing the weak person from fear. For this secret was contained in the law. Indeed, it is what the law was all about. We cannot ask why it should be disclosed now, for to do this would be to call God to account. We ought not to behave like busybodies but instead be content with what we have been given….Do not think that Paul said this in disparagement of the Son. For if all the things whereby His wisdom was made apparent were done by Christ and nothing was done without Him, it is quite plain that the Son is equal to the Father in wisdom also. The word only is used in order to contrast God with every created being.
St. Bernard, from Homily 4 on ‘Missus est’
Hasten, then, O Lady, to give your answer; hasten to speak the word so longed for by all on earth, in limbo, and in heaven. Yes, the King and Lord of all things, who has “greatly desired your beauty” (Ps 45,12), desires as eagerly your word of consent by which He has purposed to save the world. He whom you pleased by your silence will be yet more pleased by your reply. Hark! He calls to you from heaven: “O most beautiful among women, let me hear your voice” (Sg 1,8; 2,14)… Answer the angel quickly, then; yes, through the angel give your consent to your God. Answer one syllable, receive the Word; utter your own word and conceive that which is Divine.
St. Jean Vianney, from Homily on the Immaculate Conception
What the old law says of wisdom is true in the new law of sanctifying grace. “Now all good things came to me together with her, and innumerable riches through her hands” (Wis 7.11). Yes, with sanctifying race come all the other graces. …. And as Solomon prayed for one thing, namely, wisdom, with which all good things came to him at the same time, let us pray to God and Mary for one thing, sanctifying grace, with which comes all good. Our true happiness in time as well as in eternity consists in sanctifying grace. “For wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sin. Hence, where there is sanctifying grace, there is also a good conscience…. Indeed, sanctifying grace is the surest pledge of eternal life itself; for, if we die in it, we are sure of heaven, and we shall be eternally happy. How sanctifying grace, joined to the testimony of the conscience, brings consolation, we see in Mary, who, being full of grace, was also full of consolation in the greatest and bitterest sufferings.