Tag Archives: Advent readings

Monday, Week 3 of Advent


Readings here

Mattthew’s gospel begins this week with a story of unbelief. Those you would expect to receive Jesus reject him.  They also rejected John the Baptist before him. Yet, prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners believed in him and they also believed  in John, Jesus says.

Faith in Jesus doesn’t come from holding places of privilege and power, or from great learning.

The Old Testament offers a wonderful reading from the Book of Numbers.. It’s about Balaam, a foreign prophet, who’s offered handsome pay if he will put a curse on the tribes of Israel. Instead, Balaam, “whose eyes are true, who sees what God sees and knows what God knows,”  blesses the tribes of Israel.

He promises a “star shall rise from Israel and a staff should appear from Jacob.”.

Even his donkey gets it right. He won’t take Balaam to the place where they want him to curse the Israelites. Is that why t a donkey appears at the manger in Bethlehem?

Beautiful illustration from the Middle Ages. The donkey won’t budge..

What You Find in the First Week of Advent

The daily Advent readings at Mass for the first week of Advent are beautifully arranged..

In the Old Testament readings,  the Prophet Isaiah speaks as a fierce Assyrian army heads towards Jerusalem. Bad times ahead, but the prophet sees something else. All nations are streaming to God’s mountain.

The nations will come to God’s mountain, Jerusalem, where the temple stands, the prophet says.  They’ll be fed a rich banquet (Wednesday),  the poor will triumph (Thursday),  the blind will see (Friday). Safe on this rock, children play around the cobra’s den, and the lion and the lamb lie down together (Tuesday). The prophet  challenges us to see our world in another way.

In the gospels  Jesus Christ fulfills the Isaian prophecies. The Roman centurion, humbly approaching Jesus in Capernaum, represents all nations approaching him. (Monday)  Jesus praises the childlike;  they will enter the kingdom of heaven.(Tuesday)  He feeds a multitude on the mountain.(Wednesday) His kingdom is built on rock.(Thursday)  He gives sight to the blind to find their way.  (Friday)

Many Advent readings in these early weeks of Advent are from the gospel of Matthew, who portrays Jesus teaching on a mountain (Isaiah’s favorite symbol). His miracles affect all. Jesus is the new temple, the Presence of God, Emmanuel, God with us. He brings hope beyond human hope.

Lord, help us see what you and the prophets see.

Advent Readings: Week 2

Advent_heading copy 2To reach God’s holy mountain there’s a journey to make, Isaiah says, but guides will show the way. “Behold, I send my messenger ahead of you, to prepare your way.” Mark 1, 1. John the Baptist appears in the desert promising forgiveness  to those washing in the waters of the Jordan River. We have been baptized in the waters of baptism.

The Old Testament readings this Advent week, mostly from Isaiah, describe a desert journey,  but the desert will bloom and a highway will be there, the prophet promises. (Monday) God will speak tender, comforting words to his people on the way. (Tuesday) Those who hope in him will renew their strength, soaring on eagle’s wings. (Wednesday) Though we are as insignificant as a worm, God holds us in his hands and says:“Fear not; I am with you.” (Thursday) God is our teacher and shows us the way  to go. (Friday) On the way, prophets like Elijah accompany us. (Saturday)

Jesus is our way, the gospel readings say. He healed and forgave the paralyzed man– symbol of a paralyzed humanity– who was lowered through the roof into the house in Capernaum. (Monday) Like a good shepherd he searches for and finds the stray sheep. (Tuesday) “Come to me all who are weary, ” he says. (Wednesday) He sends us prophets and guides like John the Baptist and Elijah.( Thursday) Though rejected like John the Baptist, Jesus still teaches. (Friday)

He will save us, even though unrecognized like John and Elijah. (Saturday)

List of Readings

Monday: Isaiah 30, 1-10 The desert will bloom and a highway will be there, a holy way.Luke 5,17-26 The paralyzed man, lowered through the roof, is healed and forgiven.

Tuesday: Isaiah 40,1-11 The desert is a way to the Lord. Comfort my people. Mattthew 18, 12-14 The shepherd searches for the stray sheep.

Wednesday: Isaiah 30,25-31 God is the strength of his people. Matthew 11,28-30   “Come to me all who are weary…”

Thursday: Isaiah 41,13-20   God says, “I will grasp you by the hand. Fear not.”Matthew 11,11-15   John the Baptist is sent like Elijah.

Friday: Isaiah 48-17-19 I teach you what’s for your good and lead you on the way to go. Matthew 11,1-19   John and Jesus rejected as teachers.

Saturday: Sirach 48,1-4; 9-11 Elijah, precursor of John. Matthew 17, 9-13   Elijah and John not recognized.

Tuesday: 2nd week of Advent


“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end.” The tender  words of Isaiah in today’s reading end with this promise: ” Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.” (Isaiah 40,1-11)

“I am the Good Shepherd,”Jesus says

A few years ago Carol Rothstein took the picture above of shepherds in the Jordan Valley along  the road to Jericho . Jesus and his followers likely traveled this same road on their way to Jerusalem and surely passed  a scene like this. Would he have told them the story of the Good Shepherd then?

The mountains in the distance make the picture so interesting.  Can you imagine a shepherd taking off in search of one of his flock lost in those distant hills? What an effort it would be! An impossible task! The wondrous merciful love of God for each of us is like that, our gospel today says.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,

will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills

and go in search of the stray?

And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it

than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.

In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father

that one of these little ones be lost.” (Matthew)

That’s a story of God’s mercy. Ending his earthly journey, Jesus will reach out to a thief who’s lost as he turns to the thief on the Cross and brings him to Paradise.

Handel put to music this powerful theme:

Advent Weekday Readings: 2nd Week

An Overview

The Old Testament readings this week, mostly from Isaiah, describe our journey through the desert as a hard journey, but the desert will bloom and a highway will be there, a holy way. (Monday) We’ll hear tender, comforting words as we go. (Tuesday)  Those who hope in God will renew their strength, soaring on eagle’s wings. (Wednesday) We’re as insignificant as a worm, the prophet says, but God takes us in hand and says: “Fear not; I am with you.” (Thursday) God teaches us the way to go. (Friday) We meet prophets like Elijah and John on our way. (Saturday)

Above all, Jesus is our way, the gospel readings say. The paralyzed man lowered through the roof in Caphernaum got up and was ready to make the journey. He symbolizes paralyzed humanity enabled to walk again. (Monday) Jesus the good Shepherd searches for and finds the stray sheep. (Tuesday)  “Come to me all who are weary…” he says. (Wednesday) We’ll find prophets and guides like John the Baptist and Elijah. (Thursday) Though rejected like John the Baptist, Jesus still teaches. He will always teach. (Friday) He saves us, even though he goes unrecognized like John and Elijah. (Saturday)

You can follow the daily readings  here

Thursday, 3rd week of Advent

Tonight is the last evening of our mission at Holy Family in the Bahamas. During the week, I spoke about the three great witnesses of the Advent season: Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary of Nazareth. They prepare us to receive Jesus Christ.

Let’s remember the Prophet Isaiah again, and those who followed him. He tells us to remember God’s promises. They seem far beyond what we think possible and greater than we can imagine, but God promises to fulfill them in the world and in us.

The prophet speaks to those most likely to distrust, yet God wants them most to hear:  the poor, the sick, the blind, the lame, those wearied from the journey. He speaks tender words of comfort. His words to the barren woman in today’s reading are among his most beautiful.

John the Baptist is the voice in the wilderness. We’re to be that voice too. It’s far easier to speak God’s word in a church or in a temple than there. That’s why Jesus praised John, and why he praises all who are his voice in the wilderness. You may not be able to say much, but if you speak what you can and remain faithful to God in the wilderness that’s yours, God will bless you as God blessed John.

Finally, we reflected last night on Mary, the mother of Jesus.  You have a wonderful custom here in this parish at the end of daily Mass, I notice, of praying the Angelus, which recalls the coming of the angel to Mary and her response. That’s a mystery we share with her, and so we recall it each day to make it our own. “Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”

Each day is important because the promises of Christ come to us day by day. They are not always obvious, so we must become aware of them. Like Mary, we question what they mean. For that reason, we enter that mystery that happened once in small, unnoticed Nazareth. The angel still comes and goes., and with Mary, we say each day “Be it done to me, according to your word.”

Thursday: 1st Week of Advent


Isaiah 26:1-6:  On the day of the Lord those who depend on God will enter God’s city.

Matthew 7: 21-24-27:  Build your house on rock.

The ancient peoples often built their cities on rocky heights  because they were the safest places to live.  Supplied with water and food and strong defenses, they were less likely to be invaded. That’s why the Jews chose Jerusalem. Built on rock, it was a safe place.

But Isaiah warns against depending on natural resources or human skills and plans alone. Don’t rely on them; they can’t always  save you. The strongest city becomes “a city of chaos” that falls apart without God.

God builds the strong city, the prophet says; he is our Rock and he admits into its gates “ a nation that is just; one that keeps faith.”

Build your  lives on rock, Jesus says in the gospel. Don’t rely on a token faith (Lord, Lord) to save you or like fools build on sand .

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them

will be like a wise person who built a house on rock.”


A secular society like ours often sees religion as a destructive force or a brake on progress. It turns to  “human reason” alone? How can we depend on God in society today?

How do you build your personal life on rock?

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD

than to trust in man.

It is better to take refuge in the LORD

than to trust in princes.”  (Psalm 118)

Ist Sunday of Advent


Edward Hicks (1780-1849), the Quaker painter, painted about 100 versions of the peaceable kingdom, based on the 11th chapter of Isaiah,  read on Tuesday of our 1st week of Advent.




1st Sunday Advent B

Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.  Psalm  80


Isaiah 63, 16b-17,19b; 64:2-7

God is our Father, Isaiah says, but we wander off, as if we had no father. “Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways.” But the people of his day are “like withered leaves, driven by the wind.”

1 Corinthians 1,3-9

A harmless looking selection of scripture, yet reading on you find that Paul is writing to a troubled church at Corinth, a seaport city filled with upwardly mobile people who want to get ahead in the world. There are factions in the church; people fighting for power and prestige. Some don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus and their own resurrection.

Yet, Paul still loves them like a father.

Mark 13, 33-37

We are in charge of a house, but it’s not ours. God has a claim on our life, so don’t fall asleep where you live, in your own house, your own family, your own work, your own situation or condition of life. Don’t fall asleep even if everything looks like it’s falling apart. That’s where God comes to all of us–where we are now. That’s when God comes, when things look like they’re falling apart.

Cf. Passionist homilies at www.thepassionists.org


What kind of world is God coming to now?

How are things in your house?