Thursday of the Second Week


Is 41:13-20
Ps 145:1 and 9, 10-11, 12-13ab
Mt 11:11-15


Advent is the season when Catholics across the globe prepare for Christ to arrive as the light of the world.  Yet, as the readings for today suggest, Advent is also an opportunity for us to consider whether and how we ourselves might bring light into the lives of those around us.

In Isaiah 41:13-20, God reaches out to a community that, like soft-bodied worms and maggots, is feeble and defenseless.  Evidence suggests that much of the Book of Isaiah was written at a time when Judah was besieged by political and religious oppression; Jews had been exiled from their promised land and forced to live in captivity in Babylon.  In this time of strife, at a moment when the Jewish community is separated from their home by a formidable, pathless desert, God takes their collective hand.  He quells their fears and promises to help.  He will even change the established order of nature to ensure their well-being: He will open up fountains in the middle of valleys; He will turn deserts into marshlands.  He will quench their thirst and He will give them cause to rejoice once again.

Reflecting on this passage today—especially in an America that is characterized by division, violence, and hateful rhetoric—I am struck by the questions that it demands we ask of ourselves.  Do we acknowledge the weary travelers in our own midst, those who may harbor deep wounds or vulnerabilities of their own?  What does it mean to take the hand of another who is in distress?  And, to what extent are we willing to change our own comfortable, established order so as to ensure that others can survive and prosper?

Kate Yanina DeConinck, Th.D.
Department of Theology and Religious Studies