5 December, 2012. First Week of Advent – Wednesday
First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10
(“Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces” – a vision of the Messianic age.)
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.
Gospel: Matthew 15:29-37
(Out of compassion, Jesus multiplies the loaves and fishes, so all can eat their fill.)
After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way. ” The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish. ” Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.
A Paradise created by the Spirit
Isaiah had a great feeling of hope for the future, when the Messiah would bring in God’s new age and the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food. For the early Christians, this vision must have seemed on the verge of fulfilment in the work of Jesus – and especially in his miracles of feeding the people.
Lord, grant us the strength to dream our hopes aloud and share them with others, the courage to persevere through their apparent collapse, and the childlike hope to be reborn anew so that the mystery of your promises may be manifest in our lives.