2nd Week of Advent
Psalter: Week 2
Ps 96:1-2, 3 and 10ac, 11-12, 13
The Lord our God comes with power.
1st Reading: Is 40:1–11
Be comforted, my people, be strengthened, says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, proclaim to her that her time of bondage is at an end, that her guilt has been paid for, that from the hand of Yahweh she has received double punishment for all her iniquity.
A voice cries, “In the wilderness prepare the way for Yahweh. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley will be raised up; every mountain and hill will be laid low. The stumbling blocks shall become level and the rugged places smooth. The glory of Yahweh will be revealed, and all mortals together will see it; for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry.” and I say, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty as the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower wilts, when the breath of Yahweh blows upon it. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will forever stand.” Go up onto the high mountain, messenger of Zion, lift up your voice with strength, fear not to cry aloud when you tell Jerusalem and announce to the cities of Judah: Here is your God!
Here comes your God with might; his strong arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and here before him is his booty. Like a shepherd he tends his flock: he gathers the lambs in his arms, he carries them in his bosom, gently leading those that are with young.
Gospel: Mt 18:12–14
Jesus said to his disciples, “What do you think of this? If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, won’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillside, and go to look for the stray one? And I tell you: when he finally finds it, he is more pleased about it than about the ninety-nine that did not get lost. It is the same with your Father in heaven: there they don’t want even one of these little ones to be lost.”
One can understand the good shepherd’s love for the lost one. But how about the safety of the ninety-nine? Why does he abandon them? Doesn’t he love them as much as the lost one?
In truth, the good shepherd does not abandon the ninety-nine. There is no loss of love for them either. The clue lies in where he leaves the flock before going after the lost one—he leaves them on the hillside. The mountain of the Lord. Ever since the season of Advent began, we had been listening to the description of the mountain of the Lord. On his mountain, everyone is safe. No one preys on the other. There is enough food and drink for all. The ninety-nine are in the safest place. On the hillside, they are under the watchful gaze of the Father.
God loves the sinner. He loves the just as well. No amount of good works will make God love you more. No amount of sins will make God love you less. Because in Him is the perfection of love.
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