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Second Week of Advent


(Is 35:1-10: Lk 5:17-26) Desert drama

It’s not such a long leap from the desert Isaiah describes to the southwestern U.S. desert. There, hopeful immigrants endure searing heat, debilitating thirst and lost paths through a huge wasteland, seeking a way to support their families. Where is the strength and healing the prophet promises? It comes through the hands of human rights workers who bring them water and medicine. People still need God’s gracious highway.


(Is 40:1-11; Mt 18:12-14) Pausing for comfort

Today’s readings should help change images of a punitive God. Comfort is the first word, breathed tenderly as a mother leaning over her newborn, then repeated in case we miss the point. Our response? Initially, we may want to simply bask in the contentment of knowing such a God. If our prayer is usually asking for help in difficulty, we should try a happy rest in God, which some name contemplation. Then, strengthened for mission, we do God’s work. Naturally, we want to hurry forward, to quickly meet such an empathetic friend. We’ll eliminate the detours which drain precious time and energy away from God.


(Is 40:25-31; Mt 11:28-30) Take heart, take rest

Jesus must have understood how quickly we tire, how soon our burdens become heavy. Looking at a crowd bent over from years of manual labor and oppression, he speaks words that spring from deep compassion. Because he understands our need for rest, he promises it to all, no matter where we work, no matter how fast we tire.


(Is 41:13-20; Mt 11:11-15) Held by the hand

Anyone who’s crossed a desert can appreciate the Isaiah reading today. In the vast, barren wilderness, God offers a helping hand. Fountains of water will spring up; trees will flourish. This passage should speak to our dry times and places. Where are we feeling desert-like (paralyzed, depressed or frustrated) now? Where do we need God’s life-giving hand?


(Is 48:17-19; Mt 11:16-19) Another lens on success

In today’s readings God interprets success differently than we do. God offers the ultimate consolation: our names never cut off from God’s presence. Have we delighted recently in ordinary blessings: the growth of a child, good health or the satisfaction of a meal? Do we fully appreciate the magnificent creator who abides with us every minute, guarding the smallest details of our days?


(Sir 48:1-4, 9-11; Mt 17:9a, 10-13) Totally awesome!

Jesus’ disciples ask him about Elijah right after the transfiguration. They are leaving the glorious mountaintop, trudging back to the squalor of cities and an epileptic boy. Jesus brushes aside the question, seeming to say, “Just as Elijah calmed wrath, so you too can learn to deal constructively with anger. He was awesome, but so too are people in your midst, today.”

thanks to Catholic Update!