Saturday, December 23, 2023

Ember Saturday of Advent 2023

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina, under the high priests Annas and Caiphas, the word of the Lord came unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins, as is written in the book of the sayings of Isaiah the prophet: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled; and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight; and the rough ways plain; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (The Gospel of the Ember Saturday of Advent.)

The Preaching of St John the Baptist, 1485-90, by Domenico Ghirlandaio, in the Tornabuoni chapel of the Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
He said therefore to the multitudes that went forth to be baptized by him: “Ye offspring of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of penance; and do not begin to say, ‘We have Abraham for our father.’ For I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down and cast into the fire.” And the people asked him, saying, “What then shall we do?” And he answering, said to them, “He that hath two coats, let him give to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do in like manner.” And the publicans also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Master, what shall we do?” But he said to them, “Do nothing more than that which is appointed you.” And the soldiers also asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do violence to no man, neither calumniate any man, and be content with your pay.” And as the people were of opinion, and all were thinking in their hearts of John, that perhaps he might be the Christ, John answered, saying unto all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but there shall come one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire, whose fan is in his hand, and he will purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” And many other things exhorting, did he preach to the people. (Luke 3, 7-18; in the Ambrosian Rite, the Gospel given above, extended to verse 18, is read on the Second Sunday of Advent; in the Byzantine Rite, the same longer version of this passage is read twice on the vigil of the Epiphany.)    

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