Mass Readings Year A
1st Reading: Isaias 11:1-10
2nd Reading: Romans 15: 4-9
Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12

In our Gospel today St John the Baptist calls on us to:
“prepare a way for the Lord –
make his paths straight!”

In our second Reading St Paul encourages us not to lose hope but to keep on trying – reminding us that “people in the past who did not give up hope were helped by God”. And Paul prays: “may He who helps us when we refuse to give up, help you all to be tolerant with each other, following the example of Christ Jesus, so that united in mind and voice you may give glory to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Paul seems to imply that in our efforts to be tolerant with each other we can expect to fail often but we must not lose hope – trusting that “God will help us if we refuse to give up”. This seems to be a good Advent programme for a monastic community like ours. During this season we pay very careful attention to preparing the liturgy and indeed the Advent chants are beautiful but to ensure that our daily celebration of the liturgy truly gives glory to God we also need to be attentive to our relationships with our sisters in community. Paul continues “it can only be to God’s glory for you to treat each other in the same friendly way as Christ treated you”.

Pope Paul VI described fraternal charity as “an active hope for what others can become through my co-operation” – a very high ideal it is true but the One whom we await during the Advent season will “baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire”. It is the same Spirit whom Isaias prophesied would rest on the future Messiah (as described in our first reading)
“The spirit of wisdom and insight
a spirit of counsel and power
a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord”

So that:
“He does not judge by appearances
gives no verdict on hearsay
but judges the wretched with integrity.”

In his days peace will reign on earth – Isaias describes the tolerance of the animals as diverse as a cow, an ox, lamb, panther, wolf, lion, viper and little child all at play!
“They do no hurt or harm
on all my holy mountain
for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord”

And so we pray in the words of the hymn we used at Office of Readings today:
“Make straight our way O Lamb of God
that we in joy may live on earth
reflecting your incarnate love.”