Matthew’s gospel read the first few days of 3rd week of Advent brings us to the temple in Jerusalem where Jesus should be recognized– but he isn’t. The religious leaders, representing the blindness of many, reject Jesus and John the Baptist. Jesus Christ will continue to be rejected..(Matthew 21,23-27)
By contrast, the Book of Numbers tells the story of Balaam the prophet, who’s offered a handsome pay for cursing the tribes of Israel. Instead he blessed them, recognizing God’s with them. Even his donkey gets it right.
December 17th we turn to events preceding the birth of Jesus, reading Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, which begins with Abraham and ends with Joseph, the husband of Mary. (Matthew 1, 1-17)
December 18th Joseph, “Son of David,” is told of the conception and birth of the Child He is to name him Jesus, because “he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1,19-25) In the first reading Jeremiah prophesies a return of God’s people to their own land. (Jeremiah 23,5-9=8)
Luke’s gospel, read the remaining days of Advent, sets the stage for this world-changing event. Herod the Great rules in Palestine as the Angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah in the temples. The elderly priest is told that he and his wife Elizabeth will have a son who will be “the prophet of the Most High:” Luke 1,5-26 (December 19)
Six months later the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary in the small town of Nazareth that she will bring into the world a holy child, who will be called “the Son of God.” Luke 1,26-38 (December 20)) This happens in the days when Caesar Augustus is emperor of the Roman world, but Someone greater is coming.
Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth to share the Good News. Luke 1,39-45 (December 21) She offers her prayer of thanksgiving to God, her Magnificat: Luke 1,46-56 (December 22)
Other marvelous births are recalled in the Old Testament readings: Samson and Samuel whose mothers – thought barren– conceive and bear children. “Nothing is impossible for God.”
All is set for the birth of Jesus Christ.