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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

1st Reading (Isa 54:1-10): Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear, break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor, for more numerous are the children of the deserted wife than the children of her who has a husband, says the Lord. Enlarge the space for your tent, spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes. For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left; your descendants shall dispossess the nations and shall people the desolate cities.

Fear not, you shall not be put to shame; you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced. The shame of your youth you shall forget, the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember. For he who has become your husband is your Maker; his name is the Lord of hosts; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, called God of all the earth. The Lord calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, a wife married in youth and then cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back. In an outburst of wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you; but with enduring love I take pity on you, says the Lord, your redeemer.

This is for me like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah should never again deluge the earth; so I have sworn not to be angry with you, or to rebuke you. Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you.
Responsorial Psalm: 29
R/. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, o Lord, for you drew me clear and did not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord, you brought me up from the nether world; you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.

Sing praise to the Lord, you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime, his good will. At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.

«Hear, o Lord, and have pity on me; o Lord, be my helper». You changed my mourning into dancing; o Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
Versicle before the Gospel (Lk 3:4.6): Alleluia. Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: All flesh shall see the salvation of God. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 7:24-30): When the messengers of John had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. “What did you go out to the desert to see—a reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom scripture says: ‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

(All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.)

“What did you go out to the desert to see?”

Fr. Carles ELÍAS i Cao (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, three times Jesus Christ asks us: “What did you go out to the desert to see? Then what did you go out to see?; Then what did you go out to see?” (Lk 7:24.25.26).

Today, Jesus seems to want us to get rid of that eagerness of ours for a futile curiosity, of the arrogance the Pharisees and Masters of the Law showed by looking down upon God's plans for them by ignoring John's call (cf. Lk 7:30). We realize that only our “knowledge of God” will not save us; we must know Him, love Him and follow Him; we need a response from deep inside us, sincere, humble and grateful.

“All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God;” (Lk 7:29): now comes the time for salvation. As St. John Crysostom preached, now is not the time to be examined, but the time of forgiving. Now and today is the right time; God is coming near and nearer each time, because He is good, He is just and He knows us well, and therefore He is full of a love that forgives; because, every evening He waits for us, returning home, to embrace us.

And He offers us the gift of his forgiveness and his presence; He breaks whatever distance between us; He knocks at our door. Humble, patient, now He knocks at your heart: in your desert, in your loneliness, in your failings, in your incapacity, He wants you to see his loving.

We must leave behind our comfort and luxury and face reality as it is: disturbed by consumerism and selfishness we have forgotten what God is expecting from us. He wants our love; He wants us for Him; He wants us truly poor and simple, to be able to give us the news that, despite everything, we are still awaiting: —I am with you, do not be afraid, trust me.

Looking inside us, we may now say in a quiet voice: —O Lord, you know me and accept me as I am; open my heart to your presence; I wish to accept your love, I wish to welcome you, now that you are coming in silence and peace.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “You may mention Elias who was taken up into heaven, yet he is not greater than John. Enoch was translated, but he is not greater than John.” (Saint Cyril of Jerusalem)

  • “The Gospel says that John invited everyone to conversion. The Pharisees and doctors noticed the strength of John, he was a righteous man. They went to him and asked: are you the Messiah? John was clear and did not fall into the temptation of stealing the title. He was a man of truth and did not steal dignity of the Lord.” (Francis)

  • “John the Baptist is ‘more than a prophet’ (Lk 7:26) (…) ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. and I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.... Behold, the Lamb of God.’ (Jn 1:33-36)” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 719)