The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will make music to your name, O Most High. When my enemies are driven back, they stumble and perish at your presence. For you have maintained my right and my cause; you sat on your throne giving righteous judgement.
You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. The enemy was utterly laid waste. You uprooted their cities; their very memory has perished. But the Lord shall endure for ever; he has made fast his throne for judgement. For he shall rule the world with righteousness and govern the peoples with equity.
Then will the Lord be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in the time of trouble. And those who know your name will put their trust in you, for you, Lord, have never failed those who seek you. Sing praises to the Lord who dwells in Zion; declare among the peoples the things he has done. The avenger of blood has remembered them; he did not forget the cry of the oppressed. Have mercy upon me, O Lord; consider the trouble I suffer from those who hate me, you that lift me up from the gates of death; that I may tell all your praises in the gates of the city of Zion and rejoice in your salvation.
The nations shall sink into the pit of their making and in the snare which they set will their own foot be taken. The Lord makes himself known by his acts of justice; the wicked are snared in the works of their own hands. They shall return to the land of darkness, all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten and the hope of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Arise, O Lord, and let not mortals have the upper hand; let the nations be judged before your face. Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but mortal.
Why stand so far off, O Lord?
Why hide yourself in time of trouble?
The wicked in their pride persecute the poor; let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.
The wicked boast of their heart’s desire; the covetous curse and revile the Lord.
The wicked in their arrogance say, ‘God will not avenge it’; in all their scheming God counts for nothing.
They are stubborn in all their ways, for your judgements are far above out of their sight; they scoff at all their adversaries.
They say in their heart, ‘I shall not be shaken; no harm shall ever happen to me.’
Their mouth is full of cursing, deceit and fraud; under their tongue lie mischief and wrong.
They lurk in the outskirts and in dark alleys they murder the innocent; their eyes are ever watching for the helpless.
They lie in wait, like a lion in his den; they lie in wait to seize the poor; they seize the poor when they get them into their net.
The innocent are broken and humbled before them; the helpless fall before their power.
They say in their heart, ‘God has forgotten; he hides his face away; he will never see it.’
Arise, O Lord God, and lift up your hand; forget not the poor.
Why should the wicked be scornful of God?
Why should they say in their hearts, ‘You will not avenge it’?
Surely, you behold trouble and misery; you see it and take it into your own hand.
The helpless commit themselves to you, for you are the helper of the orphan.
Break the power of the wicked and malicious; search out their wickedness until you find none.
The Lord shall reign for ever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land. Lord, you will hear the desire of the poor; you will incline your ear to the fullness of their heart, To give justice to the orphan and oppressed, so that people are no longer driven in terror from the land.
Isaiah 44.24 - 45.13
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who by myself spread out the earth; who frustrates the omens of liars, and makes fools of diviners; who turns back the wise, and makes their knowledge foolish; who confirms the word of his servant, and fulfils the prediction of his messengers; who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited’, and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt, and I will raise up their ruins’; who says to the deep, ‘Be dry—I will dry up your rivers’; who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose’; and who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be rebuilt’, and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him—and the gates shall not be closed: I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you, though you do not know me, so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things.
Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also; the Lord have created it.
Woe to you who strive with your Maker, earthen vessels with the potter! Does the clay say to the one who fashions it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? Woe to anyone who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labour?’ Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Will you question me about my children, or command me concerning the work of my hands?
I made the earth, and created humankind upon it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. I have aroused Cyrus in righteousness, and I will make all his paths straight; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward, says the Lord of hosts.
And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.’
‘See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!’
And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.’
‘See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practises falsehood.
‘It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’
The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, who stooped to raise fallen humanity through the child-bearing of blessed Mary: grant that we, who have seen your glory revealed in our human nature and your love made perfect in our weakness, may daily be renewed in your image and conformed to the pattern of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.