Theme of the Sunday: The Signs of the True Messiah. The Gospel tells us that the Baptist doubted that Jesus was the true Messiah. He expected a judge who would be hard on sinners; he saw instead one who tried to save the lost. How can we convince people that the Messiah is among us? Are liturgies, processions and long prayers sufficient? Christ’s disciples must be signs of what their master did: they must help others. The first and second readings tell us that if we want to succeed in being such witnesses, we must not allow ourselves to be discouraged, even when confronted by situations that seem desperate.
A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 35:1-6a.10)
“God himself will come and save you.”
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the lily it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not! Behold your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM (Ps 146:6c-7.8-9a.9bc—10 (R. cf. 1s 35:4)
R/. Come, Lord, and save us.
It is the Lord who preserves fidelity forever,
who does justice to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord who sets prisoners free. R/.
It is the Lord who opens the eyes of the blind,
the Lord who raises up those who are bowed down.
It is the Lord who loves the just,
the Lord who protects the stranger. R/.
The Lord upholds the orphan and the widow,
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign forever,
the God of Sion from age to age. R/.
A reading front the Letter of Saint James (James 5:7-10)
“Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the doors. As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
The word of the Lord.
ALLELUIA (Luke 4:18)
Alleluia. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;
he has sent me to preach good news to the poor.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 11:2-11)
“Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
In those days: When John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offence at me.” As they went away, 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? Why then did you go out? To see a man dressed in soft robes? Behold, those who wear soft robes are in kings’ houses. Why 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 your way before you.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
The first reading encourages those in difficulty to have patience because their divine triumph is quite near. The second reading calls upon everyone to live in peace with one another while patiently waiting for the Lord’s time, which is always the best. In the Gospel, Jesus confirms John as a great prophet. He proclaims him the forerunner of the Messiah. The lesson is that, no matter where the ups and downs of life take us, we should never lose hope because the Lord is always there to help us at his own divine moment.