Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, priest
(Isaiah 25:6-10, Matthew 15:29-37)
During what the Church calls “Ordinary Time” weekday mass readings are not coordinated. In this long period she assigns a first reading and a gospel passage with different themes in order to give mass-goers maximum exposure to Scripture. During Advent, however, she selects a first reading from the Old Testament and a gospel to show how Jesus fulfills the anticipation of the people of Israel. Today, for example, the prophet Isaiah tells how God will prepare a banquet for all peoples in honor of lowly Israel who preserved faith in Him. In the gospel passage Jesus, a descendant of Israel, does just that. First, he assists those who are usually left out – the blind and the lame – as he addresses the masses. Then he feeds everyone large portions of bread and fish.
Because we can count on God to keep His promises, we ready ourselves for Christ’s return during Advent. But the preparations themselves convey special blessings. It is like the story Garrison Keillor tells of wintertime in rural Minnesota where he grew up. His school principal once matched children from the country with “snow parents” who would give them shelter in case a winter storm prevented their return home after school. Keillor remembers being assigned to a family whose house had a statue of the Blessed Virgin in its front yard. One afternoon when school was dismissed early and he was waiting for the school bus, he went to the house to meet the family. He introduced himself to the woman at the door simply as her “snow child.” The woman invited him in and told him to sit down while she called her husband. In the meantime, she brought him cookies and milk.
As Minnesotans in winter are sure to get heavy snowfalls, we can be sure of Christ’s eventual return in glory. Also, like Minnesotans preparing for snow, we ready ourselves for that climatic day during Advent. Finally, like the young Garrison Keillor, in our preparations we experience moments of grace.