Theme of the Sunday: “Change Your Hearts!” Though the Lord came two thousand years ago, he has not yet come to many places or into many situations. In today’s Gospel the Baptist tells us what we should do to prepare his way. We should ask ourselves what separates us from our neighbours, what barriers hinder the harmony that should exist in our families, our communities and our nation. The second reading explains what we must foster as members of the Christian community so that the Lord may come. The first reading describes the new world that has already dawned.
A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1-10)
“With righteousness he will judge the poor.”
On that day: There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM (Psalm 72:1-2.7-8.12-13.17(R.cf.7)
R/. In his days shall justice flourish, and great peace forever.
O God, give your judgement to the king,
to a king’s son your justice,
that he may judge your people in justice,
and your poor in right judgement. R/.
In his days shall justice flourish,
and great peace till the moon is no more.
He shall rule from sea to sea,
from the River to the bounds of the earth. R/.
For he shall save the needy when they cry,
the poor, and those who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak and the needy,
and save the lives of the needy. R/.
May his name endure forever,
his name continue like the sun.
Every tribe shall be blest in him,
all nations shall call him blessed. R/.
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (Romans 15:4-9)
Christ saves all men.
Brethren: Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”
The word of the Lord.
ALLELUIA (Luke 3:4.6)
Alleluia. Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight;
all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 3: 1-12)
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptised by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptise you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
As we steadily march towards the birth of Christ, the first reading foretells his mission. He will prepare us for a world where all will live in truth, peace and justice. The Gospel warns us to be very careful of our actions because in the long run each person will reap what he sows. The second reading points out that to reap positive fruits we must welcome one another without discrimination, as Christ welcomes us. Consequently, while we are in this imperfect world, let us be steadfast in always doing the right thing by giving true service to one another, confident that at the end we shall merit the house of the Lord where justice and peace shall reign.
Lord, let us never be tired of doing good things, so that at the end of this earthly struggle we shall inherit eternal life.