by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
We are now just a few days away from celebrating Christmas. In the week leading up to the 25th of December, the Gospel readings for daily Mass set the stage for the Nativity of Our Lord. The Gospel passage for Dec. 19 tells of the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to Zechariah to deliver the good news that his formerly barren wife Elizabeth would give birth to a boy who would come to be known as John the Baptist. On Dec. 20 the angel Gabriel again makes an appearance in the Gospel of St. Luke, now appearing to Mary to tell her that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit and give him the name Jesus. The Gospel reading for Dec. 21 tells of Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth and the joy they share in the expectation of the birth of their sons. Mary’s prayerful response recounted on Dec. 22 is her canticle that we call the Magnificat, her joyful praise of God for the unborn babies in their wombs.