Advent Weekday Readings: 3rd Week
Many of the readings in the early weeks of Advent are about the journey to Jerusalem. Isaiah in his time pleads with Jewish exiles in Babylon to make it; John the Baptist in his time urges pilgrims at the Jordan River to make it. What has all this to do with the Birth of Jesus Christ?
The journey to Jerusalem, the Holy City, the Mountain of God, is more than a call for Jewish exiles from Babylon or Jewish pilgrims from Jesus’ time to come to an earthly city. God also calls the human family and creation itself to Jerusalem, to Bethlehem the humble place nearby, where Jesus Christ will be born, calling all to the kingdom of God.
The world hoped for this call from the beginning, this week’s usual reading for Monday from the Book of Numbers reminds us. Balaam, a foreigner, “who’s eye is true..and who hears what God says” recognizes Israel’s divine mission and he too indistinctly recognizes a Savior to come. “ I see him, though not now. I behold him, though not near.”
Balaam is the prophet of a world hoping in the promise of a kingdom. Yet, as our gospel readings this week point out, God promise is difficult to fully grasp. In the usual gospel reading for Monday, the Jewish leaders of his day question Jesus about his authority and his mission, and don’t see it.
In Tuesday’s gospel from Luke about the two sons, Jesus warns the chief priests and elders that tax-collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before them. They can’t imagine a world larger than their own called by God to a kingdom.
In Luke’s gospel for Wednesday, even John and his disciples question whether Jesus is the Messiah, the One who ushers in the kingdom. Our gospel readings describe limited human vision facing the plan of God. They describe our vision.
The reading from Isaiah on Wednesday is a beautiful affirmation of God’s will for our world and his evolving plan for it.
I am the LORD, there is no other; I form the light, and create the darkness,
I make well-being and create woe; I, the LORD, do all these things.
Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above, like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.Let the earth open and salvation bud forth; let justice also spring up!
I, the LORD, have created this. For thus says the LORD, the creator of the heavens,
who is God, the designer and maker of the earth who established it, not creating it to be a waste, but designing it be lived in: I am the LORD, and there is no other.
Yet, we’re slow to grasp God’s power and see a plan for the world evolving in slow gentle rain and emerging buds of spring. In winter times like ours, we’re also slow to believe “God did not create the world to be a waste.”
In the reading from Second Isaiah for Thursday there are comforting words of God for us who are “slow to believe.” The commentary for the New American Bible says Isaiah uses the image a bride in a new way in this reading. “Whereas Hosea and Jeremiah had depicted Israel as the Lord’s spouse to emphasize both Israel’s infidelity and the Lord’s continued love (Hos 1–3; Jer 2:2; 3:1–15) and Ezekiel to accuse Israel unsparingly (Ez 16; 23), Second Isaiah speaks only of the love with which the Lord restores the people, speaking tender words with no hint of reproach.”
I like to think God’s words to us today not are not harsh words of condemnation, but “tender words with no hint of reproach.”
This week’s readings conclude on Saturday with the genealogy of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew. We draw nearer to the mystery of the Word made flesh.
DECEMBER 12 Mon USA: Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast
Zec 2:14-17 or Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab/Lk 1:26-38 or Lk 1:39-47,
13 Tue Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr Memorial Zep 3:1-2, 9-13/Mt 21:28-32
14 Wed St John of the Cross, Priest Doctor Memorial
Is 45:6c-8, 18, 21c-25/Lk 7:18b-23
15 Thu Advent Weekday Is 54:1-10/Lk 7:24-30
16 Fri Advent Weekday Is 56:1-3a, 6-8/Jn 5:33-36
17 Sat Advent Weekday Gn 49:2, 8-10/Mt 1:1-17
18 SUN 4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT Is 7:10-14/Rom 1:1-7/Mt 1:18-24