Jesus was a companion to the prophets, our weekday readings reminded us last week. The gospel readings for this week remind us he met fierce opposition, like the prophets before him. Matthew’s gospel read the first few day of this week recalls how the chief priests and elders refuse to accept him when he arrives in Jerusalem towards the end of his ministry. They’re blind to who Jesus Christ is. (Matthew 21,23-27)
By contrast, the Book of Numbers (Monday) tells the story of Balaam the prophet, who recognizes the presence of God in the tribes of Israel and refuses a handsome payout to curse them, but blesses them instead. Even his donkey gets it right.
In the gospel for Tuesday, Jesus scolds the chief priests and rulers of the people for their blindness to him and John the Baptist before him: “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
Both Jesus and John the Baptist will be put to death. Advent cannot go by without remembering that mystery. “I wonder as I wander at under the sky, why Jesus our Savior was born for to die, for poor, ornery people like you and like I?”
December 17th we turn to events that precede the birth of Jesus, starting first with the genealogy of Jesus which, according to Matthew, starts with Abraham and ends with Joseph, the husband of Mary. (Matthew 1, 1-17)
December 18th, there’s the announcement to Joseph, “Son of David,” of the conception and birth of the Child. He will name him Jesus, because “he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1,19-25) In the first reading Jeremiah prophesies God’s people will return to their own land. (Jeremiah 23,5-9=8)
The Infancy Narrative from Luke will be read in the liturgy from December 19 on till Christmas.
DECEMBER 13 Mon Saint Lucy, Virgin Martyr Memorial
Nm 24:2-7, 15-17a/Mt 21:23-27
14 Tue Saint John of the Cross, Priest, Doctor of the Church Memorial
Zep 3:1-2, 9-13/Mt 21:28-32
15 Wed Advent Weekday Is 45:6b-8, 18, 21c-25/Lk 7:18b-23
16 Thu Advent Weekday Is 54:1-10/Lk 7:24-30
17 Fri Advent Weekday Gn 49:2, 8-10/Mt 1:1-17
18 Sat Advent Weekday Jer 23:5-8/Mt 1:18-25 )
19 SUN FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT Mi 5:1-4a/Heb 10:5-10/Lk 1:39-45