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Tender Compassion on the Eve of Our Lord’s Birth

First Reading: 2 Samuel 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: Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 AND 29

R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.”
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the rock, my savior.’
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.”
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Gospel: Luke 1:67-79

Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
for he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hand of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

NAB

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I’m by no means a Scripture expert. I’m a cradle Catholic who is comfortable within the pages of Scripture, but I don’t have many verses memorized by rote memory. Today’s Gospel however, is one of the passages that seems to have become imprinted on my soul and I have a dear love for it.

I really love praying the Liturgy of the Hours, also called the Divine Office. It is the public prayers of the universal Church that are prayed at specific times of day and incorporate the Scripture, Psalms, hymns, and prayers of the liturgical year. I especially love morning prayer, and within morning prayer today’s reading, The Canticle of Zechariah, is said.

I love that within this canticle is the promise of a Saviour, the words of father to a son, a prophesy of the greatness of Saint John the Baptist and of Christ, and in turn a prophesy given to each of us—to prepare the way of the Lord, give His people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.

But it is the last verse that touches me deeply, calling me to live for God, to trust in Him when my very life is at stake: In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. God’s tender love shall break upon us, to shine on us who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. This is what God wants for us. This is what God calls us to experience everyday, which is why the Church calls us to thoughtfully pray this canticle each morning, so that we take stock in our lives, to recognize that God’s mercy and compassion breaks upon us anew each day, and that if we walk in His ways He himself will guide us to peace.

Peace is the call of Christmas, not a worldly peace, but the peace that comes from Christ and His love.

As we prepare for tomorrow’s beautiful feast, let’s pause to remind out hearts that peace is what we seek and peace is the reason Christ Incarnate was born of the Virgin Mary. The peace of Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, walking in His grace everyday.

Christy Isinger is the mom to five lovely, loud children living in the Canadian wilds. You can find out more about her here.

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