Scripture: Lectionary 181. Dec.7. Isaiah 30:19-21.23-26. Psalm 147:1-2,3-4,5-6, Matthew 9:35-10:1, 6-8.
Our Advent Gospel reading is a summary from St. Matthew that gives us a sketch of what Jesus has been doing in the area around which he lived with Joseph and Mary. It is precise and helps us to follow the pattern of Matthew’s Gospel which consists of the Infancy Gospel in chapters one and two and then has five sections (possibly intentionally to represent a new way of looking at the Tanach or Pentateuch). We are being led by the inspired writer into the second section which consists of narrative material and then discourse. This pattern is seen in all five sections. The Passion Narrative follows after them, thus we have a sketch of the whole Gospel of Matthew’s twenty-eight chapters.
Jesus is in the villages and towns of Galilee. He was reared there at Nazareth and was known in most of the places mentioned in the Gospels, for example, Cana and Capernaum. This present section may be named the Mission narrative and discourse. Jesus will commission his twelve disciples (apostles) to heal, preach, and even raise people from the dead. Above all they are to bring the news of the kingdom to every place and town in Israel.
Isaiah, our lead prophet for Advent, continues to give us more background on the promises of God that certainly fit in well with our own spirit of prayer during this Advent. Isaiah spells out the plan of God for peace and prosperity for his people. His universalism continues and also the mercy and loving-kindness are within our passage. We need such encouragement during this season of Advent which is one of expectation, hope, waiting with great patience for the fullness of God’s coming among us. God’s graciousness and mercy are emphasized in this selection of Isaiah in the first reading at the liturgy of the word. Even nature will be transformed and help to make God’s people full of joy and happiness. God will be present as a Teacher who does not hide himself in the lessons expressed by Isaiah in our Advent readings. God will walk behind us with words that encourage us to keep on moving ahead on the journey, just as a Teacher or Father would do for his children. Our wounds will be bound and healed by God.
The Psalm (147) reinforces the promises we hear in Isaiah; several of the gracious acts of God are mentioned. Thus the readings are perfect for our Advent meditation and prayer time—a prayer of promises fulfilled, hope, great expectations, and patient waiting till the Lord comes in time and in glory. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.