Matthew 3:1-12 (idiomatic translation)

In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea. He said: Repent with a heart desirous of Holy, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

The prophets had seen John in visions. A long time ago Isaiah spoke of a voice crying out in the desert, telling us to prepare a path for the Lord and helping us build it. John was wild and wiry and driven. He had clear, bright eyes that searched the landscape; he was a seeker. His clothes were coarse camel hair tied with uncut leather; he survived on locusts, wild honey.

At that time Jerusalem, all of Judea, the whole region around the Jordan River traveled to John to be baptized by him in the water. They had honest and vulnerable hearts that admitted to sin; in the waters of the Jordan John would support them through a ceremony of rebirth in the Lord.

But John would judge the hearts of those who came to him. He was under obligation to meet the standards of the Lord made flesh, who had not yet been born. Hypocrites came to John at the river and he said to them: show me the good fruit of your lives that you consider yourselves worthy men. I know you; you are devious and secretive and trying to get away with a privilege you do nothing to earn. You rely too much on your legacy as sons of Abraham, you do no bright work in your own lives.

John said: I tell you. God can make anyone holy, he can raise up children to Abraham from stones. But there is an axe now in the world at the root of every tree, and those that bear no good fruit will be cut down for kindling.

John said: look. I baptize you with water, to repair you of sins. But there is one coming with more power than I, who will baptize you in fire and in the Holy Spirit. I am unworthy even as his servant. He will make a harvest of the world, he will clear the threshing floor and gather wheat to his barn made of light, and the dead casings of seeds he will discard into darkness.

Psalm 147 (idiomatic translation)

Praise the Lord.

Bring your devotion, for here is a fitting place: delightful and apt.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem, and gathers exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted, and binds their wounds. Discerns the number of stars, calling each by its name.

Great is the Lord, of great power. Of understanding beyond all among us. He sustains those who seek him, and leaves all else to their own ends.

So cry with praise to God, and make it music:

Who covers the sky with clouds and brings rain to the earth, grass to the mountains. Food to cattle and infant ravens.

Who does not delight in strength, of the horse nor the warrior. But revels in those who, in awe of his might, believe in his mercy.

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem. Praise God, O Zion.

For he has braced your perimeters and graced you with descendents. Keeps peace around you and grain on your land.

He has struck the earth with his commandment, and it runs out swiftly. Here, where snow spreads like wool: frost sifts like ash, and shards of ice fall sharp on the landscape. So that you might endure it, he has sent his message. It brings wind, and fresh waters.

His words brought to Jacob, his judgments to Israel. But not so to others. Those who don’t yet know, don’t know.

Praise the Lord.

Luke 1:26-39 (idiomatic translation)

In those days there were miraculous preparations in advance of the child Christ.

At the time of the spring equinox, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, in Galilee, to the bride of Joseph, of the house of David. Joseph was betrothed to a young girl named Mary, daughter of Anne and conceived through union with the Holy Spirit. Mary lived in her own house.

Gabriel came to Mary, arms full of lilies to honor her. He said: hail Mary, you live in Grace. The Lord is with you.

And Mary was frightened of the angel’s intentions. Gabriel told her: try to be brave and calm, the path of your life has found favor with God. Even now, bright life grows inside you. You shall bear a son and name him Jesus; he will affect the earth greatly. He is the Son of the Most High, who will grant him the throne of David his father. He will rule the house of Jacob and his reign will never end.

Mary asked the angel how it could happen. She told him she had never slept with a man.

And the angel said: the Holy Spirit will come upon you, overcome you. The child to be born will not be the son of Joseph. He will be the Son of God. Gabriel said: I have been as well to Elizabeth, your cousin, past the age of bearing children. She too has conceived a child through assist of the Lord.

(The child Elizabeth carried would be John the Baptist.)

Gabriel said: Nothing is impossible for God.

Mary told the angel she was the servant of the Lord and that it should be done to her according to his plan.

And Gabriel left her.

And Mary made quick preparations to visit Elizabeth near the Old City of Jerusalem.