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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thursday of the Second Week of Advent
1st Reading (Isa 41:13-20): I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, «Fear not, I will help you». Fear not, o worm Jacob, o maggot Israel; I will help you, says the Lord; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and double-edged, to thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff. When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off and the storm shall scatter them. But you shall rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain, their tongues are parched with thirst. I, the Lord, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the broad valleys; I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water. I will plant in the desert the cedar, acacia, myrtle, and olive; I will set in the wasteland the cypress, together with the plane tree and the pine, that all may see and know, observe and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.
Responsorial Psalm: 144
R/. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
I will extol you, o my God and King, and I will bless your name forever and ever. The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.

Let all your works give you thanks, o Lord, and let your faithful ones bless you. Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom and speak of your might.

Let them make known to men your might and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom. Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages, and your dominion endures through all generations.
Versicle before the Gospel (Isa 45:8): Alleluia. Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 11:11-15): Jesus said to the crowds, “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

“The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force”

Fr. Ignasi FABREGAT i Torrents (Terrassa, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel speaks of John the Baptist, the Messiah's Precursor, he who has come to prepare the paths of the Lord. He will stay with us until the sixteenth day, when the first part of Advent comes to an end.

John is a resolute man, who is very aware of the value of things, who is conscious of the fact that struggle is necessary to improve and be holy. That's why Jesus says: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force.” (Mt 11:12). The “unyielding” ones are those who are unyielding to themselves: Do I struggle to believe that the Lord loves me too? Do I sacrifice myself to “make myself small”? Do I make the effort to be conscious of the fact that I am my Father's son and live accordingly?

Saint Therese of Lisieux refers to these words from Jesus saying something which can help us in our personal and intimate conversation with the Son of Man: “It is you, oh poverty!, my first sacrifice; I'll be together with you until I die! I know that the athlete, once at the stadium, rids himself of everything in order to run. You, worldly people, can savor the pity and anguish that come from the vanity of your bitter fruits; I, joyous, will get the prize of triumph from poverty”. And me, why do I complain as soon as I sense that I lack something I consider necessary? I wish I could see things as clearly as Therese in all aspects of my life!

In a very mysterious way, Jesus says to us today: “And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Mt 11:14-15). What does He mean? He wants to make it clear to us that John was his true forerunner, who carried out the same mission as Elijah, according to the belief, which people at that time had that the prophet Elijah was supposed to come back before the Messiah.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Moses was a very great lawgiver, and all the Prophets were admirable, but not greater than John. It is not I that dare to compare Prophets with Prophets: but their Master and ours declared it” (St Cyril of Jerusalem)

  • “I have always been struck by the Lord’s encounter with Elijah. The Lord was not in the hail, in the rain, in the storm, in the wind... The Lord was in the still soft breeze. This is the music of the Lord’s language. As we prepare for Christmas, we should listen to it.” (Francis)

  • “St. John the Baptist (...), going before Jesus ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Lk 1:17), bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 523)