Readings and Reflection for December 16, Thursday of the Third Week of Advent


A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 54:1-10)
Like a wife forsaken, the Lord has called you.

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not had labour pains!  For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her that is married, says the Lord. Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; hold not back, lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your descendants will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widow hood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I for so ok you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting mercy I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer. “For this is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my mercy shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM   (Ps 30:2 and 4.5-6.11-12a and 13b)
R/. I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up.

I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up,
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have lifted up my soul from the grave,
restored me to life from those who sin kin to the pit. R/.

Sing psalms to the Lord, you faithful ones;
give thanks to his holy name.
His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life.
At night there are tears, but at dawn comes joy. R/.

R/. I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up.

Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me;
be my helper, O LORD.
You have changed my mourning into dancing.
O Lord my God, I will thank you forever. R/.

ALLELUIA Luke 3:4.6
Alleluia. Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight; all flesh shall see the salvation of God Alleluia.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 7:24-30)
John is the messenger who prepares the way of the Lord.

When the messengers of John had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who are gorgeously apparelled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet. Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare you way before you. ’ I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (When they heard this all the people and the tax collectors justified God, having been baptised with the baptism of John; but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptised by him.)

The Gospel of the Lord

The purpose of sending John the Baptist ahead of the Messiah was to prepare the way for the Lord. Preparing begins with our mind and heart. The tax collectors and prostitutes responded positively. They allowed the words of John to touch and transform their minds and hearts. The Pharisees and teachers of the law, on the other hand, remained closed and unaffected by John’s preaching. They presumed that, as they were righteous already, they did not need any change or the grace of God. God sends His messengers ahead of us each day through various events and persons. Those who open up recognize God and have a transforming experience; those who refuse to open up end up missing God and His blessings.


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