1st Week of Advent
Psalter: Week 1
Ps 147:1–2, 3–4, 5–6
Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.
1st Reading: Is 30:19–21, 23–26
O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. When you cry, he will listen; when he hears, he will answer. When the Lord has given you the bread of anguish and the water of distress, he, your teacher will hide no longer. Your own eyes will see him, and your ear will listen to his words behind you: “This is the way, walk in it.”
He will then give rain for the seed you sow and make the harvest abundant from the crops you grow. On that day your cattle will graze in wide pastures. Your beasts of burden will eat silage tossed to them with pitchfork and shovel.
For on the day of the great slaughter, when fortresses fall, streams of water will flow on every mountain and lofty hill.
The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven times greater, like the light of seven days, when Yahweh binds up the wounds of his people and heals the bruises inflicted by his blows.
Gospel: Mt 9:35—10:1, 5a, 6–8
Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, and he cured every sickness and disease. When he saw the crowds he was moved with pity, for they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the workers are only few. Ask the master of the harvest to send workers to gather his harvest.”
Then he called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority over the unclean spirits to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness. Jesus sent these twelve on mission with the instruction: “Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go instead to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. “Go and proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. You received this as a gift, so give it as a gift.”
Isaiah makes a strange observation: After the Lord has given us the bread of anguish and the water of distress, the Savior will appear, and our eyes will see him and our ears will hear him. Why does the Savior wait until after we have eaten the bread of anguish and drunk the water of distress?
Perhaps it is not a delay on God’s part, but on ours. Perhaps it is only when we have suffered enough anguish and distress that we become open enough to see, hear, and receive the Lord. It is when tragedy strikes that we seek the Lord and beg for him to show us the way forward. A lovely Jewish story illustrates this point beautifully:
A student once asked his Master, “Rabbi, why in the scripture does it say, ‘May thy words be upon my heart?’ Why not in my heart?” The Rabbi answered, “Even God, my child, cannot put the words directly into the heart. They are placed upon the heart, so that when the heart breaks, His words can drop in.”
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