A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1-11)
God comforts his people.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM ( Psalm 96: 1-2.3 and 10ac.11-12a.12b-13)
R.The Lord our God comes with might.
O sing a new song to the Lord;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
O sing to the Lord; bless his name.
Proclaim his salvation day by day. R
Tell among the nations his glory,
and his wonders among all the peoples.
Say to the nations, “The Lord is king.”
he will judge the peoples in fairness. R
Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad;
let the sea and all within it thunder praise.
Let the land and all it bears rejoice. R
Then will all the trees of the wood shout for joy;
at the presence of the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice;
he will govern the peoples with his truth. R
Alleluia. Alleluia. The day of the Lord is near;
behold, he shall come to save us.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Matthew 18: 12-14)
God does not will that the little ones should perish.
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
The first reading announces hope: the time of bondage is over. The second reading focuses on the joy that follows when one straying sheep is found. Likewise there will be joy in heaven at the repentance of even a single sinner. Consequently we are called upon to mend our ways for the coming of the Lord. We are all sinners but since our repentance adds to the joy of heaven let us in this Advent season turn away from sin and get ready for the coming of Emmanuel.
Lord, give us the courage to say no to sin so as to be ready not only for your birth but, more importantly, for our eventual birth into heaven.