Advent through the centuries: The eighth century

Sunday, December 8, 2013
The eighth century of the Church

Scripture:
Romans 15:4-13

For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Because of this I will confess you among the Gentilesand I will sing praises to your name.” And again it says: “RejoiceO Gentileswith his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord all you Gentilesand let all the peoples praise him.” And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will comeand the one who rises to rule over the Gentilesin him will the Gentiles hope.” Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Reading:

The Venerable Bede, homily 1.4, 673-735.

She [Elizabeth] cried out and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb‘. ‘Blessed are you among women’ — not only blessed among women, but specially distinguished among blessed women by a greater blessing. ‘Blessed the fruit of your womb’ — not that he was blessed in a general way of saints, but, as the Apostle [Rom 9:5] says, To them belong the patriarchs, [and] from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who above all, God blessed for ages.

Of the origin of this fruit, the psalmist bears witness in a mystical utterance, saying, For indeed the Lord will give his generosity, and our earth will gives its fruit. [Ps 85:12] The Lord indeed gave of his generosity in that he arranged to liberate the human race from the crime of its transgression through his only-begotten Son. He gave of his generosity because with the grace of the Holy Spirit he consecrated for his entry the temple of a virginal womb. And our earth gave its fruit because the same virgin who had her body from the earth bore a son who was coequal to God the Father in his divinity, but by the reality of [his] flesh consubstantial with her. Concerning this, Isaiah [4:2] also, looking toward the time of human redemption, said,On that day the bud of the Lord will be in magnificence and in glory, and the fruit of the earth will be sublime. The bud of the Lord was in magnificence and glory when the undying Son of God, appearing temporally in the flesh as a bright light, poured out upon the world the greatness of his heavenly virtues. The fruit of the earth became sublime when the mortal flesh which God received from our nature, already rendered immortal in virtue of the resurrection, was raised up to heaven.

bas-relief made by the Lombards in the 8th century, depicting kings coming before the infant Jesus.
bas-relief made by the Lombards in the 8th century, depicting kings coming before the infant Jesus.

Prayer:
Hymn for Advent, 8th century

Come, Sun and Savior, to embrace
Our gloomy world, its weary race,
As groom to bride, as bride to groom:
The wedding chamber, Mary’s womb.
At your great Name, O Jesus, now
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
All things on earth with one accord,
Like those in heaven, shall call you Lord.
Come in your holy might, we pray,
Redeem us for eternal day;
Defend us while we dwell below,
From all assaults of our dread foe.

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