NOVEMBER 29 Mon Advent Weekday Is 2:1-5/Mt 8:5-1
30 Tue Saint Andrew, Apostle Feast Rom 10:9-18/Mt 4:18-22
DECEMBER 1 Wed Advent Weekday Is 25:6-10a/Mt 15:29-37
2 Thu Advent Weekday Is 26:1-6/Mt 7:21, 24-27
3 Fri Saint Francis Xavier, Priest Memorial Is 29:17-24/Mt 9:27-31
4 Sat Advent Weekday [Saint John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church]
Is 30:19-21, 23-26/Mt 9:35—10:1, 5a, 6-8
5 SUN SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT Bar 5:1-9/Phil 1:4-6, 8-11/Lk 3:1-6
Our lectionary’s readings for Advent invite us into this beautiful season leading to the Birth of Jesus Christ. The Prophet Isaiah, speaking for the generations before Jesus who waited for his coming, accounts for almost half of Advent’s Old Testament readings. We hear his voice this first week.
Usually Advent opens, either on Sunday or Monday, with Isaiah’s message that all nations will stream to God’s mountain and listen for God’s instruction. “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” Wars are over; the fragmentation destroying humanity comes to an end. It’s a message of universal salvation. Not only are we as individuals called, but all nations, all creatures, all creation is called. ( Isaiah 2:1-5 ) The reading is also read every Monday during Advent at morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.
For Isaiah, the mountain of the Lord, where the Jewish temple stood in Jerusalem, is a place of revelation. All nations will banquet on that mountain (Monday). It’s the rock where people dwell in safety, where children play around the cobra’s den, and the lion and the lamb lie down together. (Tuesday) There the poor will triumph (Thursday), the blind will see (Friday). The Teacher will come to guide all there.(Saturday) Isaiah’s poetic imagery, embracing all creation in the readings for the 1st week of Advent, is striking in its beauty.
We need to hear God’s promise from Isaiah, especially now, as an antidote for our present fears. We wonder today about the future of our world, weak and fragmented. We’re concerned for ourselves, our future, our personal security. Advent brings the promise God to us all.
The gospels in this first week point to the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies in Jesus Christ. The Roman centurion humbly approaching Jesus in Capernaum (Monday) represents all the nations that will come to him. Jesus feeds a multitude on the mountain.(Wednesday) He affirms that his kingdom will be built on rock.(Thursday) He gives sight to blind men. (Friday) He sends his disciples to call the lost sheep. (Saturday)
Many of our Advent readings are taken from Matthew’s Gospel, which portrays Jesus teaching on a mountain (Isaiah’s favorite symbol) and working great miracles that benefit all who come. Jesus is the new temple, the new Presence of God, Emmanuel, God with us.