EMBER WEDNESDAY IN ADVENT
EPISTLE (Is. 7:10-15). And the Lord spoke again to Achaz, saying: Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God, either unto the depth of hell or unto the height above. And Achaz said: I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord. And he said: Hear ye, therefore, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that you are grievous to my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good.’
EXPLANATION In this Epistle is contained the important prophecy of the Savior’s birth from a virgin. War was declared by the kings of Israel and Syria against Achaz, king of Juda, who at their approach was overpowered with fear, and thought of seeking aid from the Assyrians instead of looking to Almighty God for help; and for this lack of confidence in God, the prophet Isaiah was sent to announce to him the destruction of both kings, and his own preservation. The prophet, wishing Achaz to prove his assertion, requested the king to demand a sign from God; but he being given to idolatry, did not wish to ask a sign from heaven, for he had more faith in the assistance of the demons and of the Assyrians. He offended God by his refusal and the prophet rebuked him, saying: The Lord himself will give you (that is, your posterity) a sign, for the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and he shall be called Emmanuel, that is-God with us. By these words Isaias desired to impress upon the king, that as surely as he should be preserved from his enemies, so surely this Emmanuel, the Son of the Virgin, would appear to redeem the world from Satan’s power. Let us learn from this lesson always to trust in God, who can deliver us from all danger, and let us also be grateful to Him, who seven hundred and forty-three years before the time, permitted, for our consolation, the announcement of the coming of His Son, our Savior.
The gospel (Lk. 1:26-28) of this day will be found in the second part of this book on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin.
ASPIRATION O Emmanuel, powerful, holy God! Our Savior and our Redeemer! be with us always in life and death: for, if Thou art with us who can be against us?
COLLECT Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that the approaching celebration of our redemption may bring us the necessary graces for the present life, and bestow upon us the rewards of eternal happiness. Through our Lord.