Saturday, December 5, 2009

The LORD Will Be Gracious To You When You Cry Out: As Soon As He Hears He Will Answer You.

Saturday of the First Week of Advent

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

Thus says the Lord GOD,
the Holy One of Israel:
O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem,
no more will you weep;

He will be gracious to you when you cry out,
as soon as he hears he will answer you.
The Lord will give you the bread you need
and the water for which you thirst.

No longer will your Teacher hide himself,
but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,
While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears
“This is the way; walk in it,”
when you would turn to the right or to the left.

He will give rain for the seed
that you sow in the ground,
And the wheat that the soil produces
will be rich and abundant.
On that day your flock will be given pasture
and the lamb will graze in spacious meadows;

The oxen and the asses that till the ground
will eat silage tossed to them
with shovel and pitchfork.
Upon every high mountain and lofty hill
there will be streams of running water.

On the day of the great slaughter,
when the towers fall,
the light of the moon will be like that of the sun
and the light of the sun will be seven times greater
like the light of seven days.
On the day the LORD binds up the wounds of his people,
he will heal the bruises left by his blows.

Responsorial           Psalm 147

R. Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.

Praise the LORD, for he is good;
sing praise to our God, for he is gracious;
it is fitting to praise him.
The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem;
the dispersed of Israel he gathers.

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He tells the number of the stars;
he calls each by name.

Great is our LORD and mighty in power:
to his wisdom there is no limit.
The LORD sustains the lowly;
the wicked he casts to the ground.

R. Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.

Gospel                    Matthew 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6-8

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.

Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Then he summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
"As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

+++ +++ +++ +++

When you hear radio advertising in a language you don’t understand, you could be led to believe that the world was coming to an end. Such excitement, such urgency! But when you know the language you realize it’s only about soap powder, or foods that make you lose weight. It’s untruthful; it’s designed to lead you astray. It devalues language and human feeling. There are real urgencies and tragedies and wonders in the world, but the language in which they might be described has been used up by the advertising industry. The house is on fire and there are people everywhere shouting, “This way! This way!” as they direct us into brush-closets or attics. It’s not that we have no shepherds to direct us; it’s that we have millions of them who don’t care what happens to us.

We are at the mercy of the advertisers when we believe that fulfilment is not to be had in the present but in the future. They exploit our dissatisfaction with life as it is. The promise they hold out to us – that we can be fulfilled in the future – is a false promise. That's how they can continue year after year, generation after generation. No one was ever fulfilled in the future; if we refuse to live in the present, we are refusing to live, and no product will ever remedy that.

We are “harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.” What is surprising, when you think about it, is that these words were first used to describe a tiny first-century population, hardly more than a tribe. If they were to see the confusion we are in today!

Where does hope lie? It is intriguing to think that the changes we see over time do not go all the way down. But what is really intriguing is what lies below that. If we have glimpses of that we have glimpses into the heart of humanity – and into the heart of God, which is called the Kingdom of God.

Donagh O’Shea, O.P.


Sarah in the tent said...

'The day of the great slaughter'
I have recently seen reports about the routine Muslim slaughter of animals for Eid and a massive Hindu sacrifice of 250 000 animals in a town in Nepal. The sacrifice of Christ did not make the streets of Jerusalem run red, but was this 'the day of the great slaughter' that Isaiah had in mind?

Fr. John L. Sullivan said...

I have also seen reports about the Muslim and Hindu sacrifices. In Egypt, before the Exodus, animals were sacrificed to their deities, and the Exodus began with the sacrificial slaughter of yearling lambs, and their meat was shared by the members of the family -- and with the neighbors, if they could not afford a lamb of their own.

All of these sacrifices are symbolic -- and our Eucharistic feast makes present -- the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us!