Thursday of the Second week of Advent
Book of Isaiah 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.
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.
Making 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.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 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."
Commentary and Reflection
"He was a burning and shining light" (Jn 5:35)
Blessed Guerric of Igny (c.1080-1157), Cistercian abbot
3rd sermon for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, 1-2; PL185, 169 (SC 202, p.339; trans. copyright Cistercian Fathers series)
Truly those words of Supreme Justice to Noah are no mean commendation of justice: "I have seen that you are just in my presence" (Gen 7:1). It is a mark of great merit that God declares to Abraham that on his account the promises that were made to him are to be fulfi1led... What a favor it was also that on Moses' account he strove with and confounded his rivals (Num 12:6)... And who among them all is like David, of whom the Lord rejoices that he has found a man according to his own heart (1Sam 13:14).
Yet however great these or any others may have been, neither among these nor among other men born of women, as he declares who was born of a virgin, has there arisen one greater than John the Baptist. For although star differs from star in brightness,(1Cor 15:41) and in the choir of the holy constellations which enlightened the night of this world before the rising of the true Sun some shone forth with a wonderful brightness, none was greater or more splendid than this Morning Star, the burning and shining Lamp which the Father prepared for his Christ (Ps 132:17). He is the Morning Star that anticipates the light, the Forerunner of the Sun, proclaiming to mortals that the day is at hand, crying out “to those who sleep in darkness and the shadow of death” (Lk 1:79): "Do penance; for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Mt 3:2). As if to say: "The night has passed away, day is at hand; cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:12). “Rise up, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you” (Eph 5:14).