03Dec 03 Dec. Saturday of the First Week of Advent

Isaiah 30:19ff. The coming days of blessed enlightenment, when people give u p idolatry.

Matthew 9:35ff. Jesus sends his twelve apostles with the gospel to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The Enlightener

The prophecy of Isaiah seems more adventurous than the gospel of Matthew in today’s liturgy. The prophet implies the immediate presence of God: “No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher.”

Jesus’ words in the gospel seem more restrictive. He sent out the twelve to cure sickness and disease instead of performing these works of mercy himself. Isaiah’s vision, moreover, sweeps universally across high mountains and lofty hill, across the heavens where “the light of the moon will be like that of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times greater.” On the contrary, Matthew confines the apostolate of the twelve to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But in fact, Jesus was no less adventurous than Isaiah. This son of Nazareth had a profound grasp of the Scriptures, especially Isaiah whom he quoted during his inaugural address in the hometown synagogue (Luke 4:16-22). We know from the temptation scene how anxious Jesus was to break loose as soon as possible and to fulfill all the promises. More than anything else, however, Jesus was obedient to the will of his heavenly father; this compliance meant that he followed the slow process of human development. Redemption basically consisted in the transformation of people rather than in the accomplishment of a mighty work. Therefore, Jesus had to adapt himself to the tempo of our gradual turning of our mind and heart toward God.

The happiness and peace achieved within our family ought to spur us to bring more and more friends, even distant acquaintances into our circle of love and compassion. What we possess becomes a model of what we want everyone to enjoy. Like Jesus, our heart too ought to be “moved with pity.” We pray all the more earnestly that God “send out laborers.”

At this moment the spirit of Isaiah stirs within the hearts of some of our fellow-disciples, moving them with a spirit of vocation. Some of these generous hearts will be urged to go out to foreign lands. Others will be caught up in profound prayer and seek a contemplative way of life. Others will be fired with hopes so adventurous as to seem impractical and unreal, as they see “the light of the moon .. . like that of the sun and the light of the sun … seven times greater!”

Although Jesus worked only with the house of Israel, he was continually giving hints and signals of his heart’s desire to embrace the world. The adventurous missionaries with Isaiah’s spirit keep alive similar hopes and desires in our hearts. At home we could become very selfish with all our good gifts, were it not for these laborers who go to the harvest areas of the world. “What you have freely received, give as a gift.” This Advent we prepare to celebrate the new birth of Jesus within our families and neighbourhoods. May such good gifts close at home make us desire that our great Teacher no longer hide himself but enable all men and women to see with their own eyes.

First Reading: Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26

Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more.
He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
when he hears it, he will answer you.

Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction,
yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.

And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left,
your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Then you will defile your silver-covered idols and your gold-plated images.
You will scatter them like filthy rags; you will say to them, “Away with you!”

He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground,
and grain, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous.
On that day your cattle will graze in broad pastures;
and the oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat silage,
which has been winnowed with shovel and fork.

On every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water – on a day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days, on the day when the Lord binds up the injuries of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

Gospel: Matthew 9:35 -10:1; 6-8

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.

He told them, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and as you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.