Thursday of the Frist Week of Advent
(Isaiah 26:1-6; Matthew 7:21.24-27)
People often come to churches looking for a handout. Not unusually they ask for cash to pay rent or purchase gasoline. It is difficult for churches to meet all these requests partly because of limited resources but also because church staff members frequently do not recognize the petitioners. If the needy were members of the congregation, however, the staff would make every effort to secure assistance. Today’s Scripture readings indicate why this is so.
The passage from Isaiah and the gospel today are related by the mention of the “Rock,” which is God on whom the people can rely. The reading from Isaiah is also connected to the basic gospel message proclaimed by Mary in her canticle praising God’s goodness. As it says, God comes to disperse the arrogant and raise up of the lowly; He provides a strong city with high walls to protect the humble. The city here refers to the Church, the community of faithful, who look out for one another.
We remember the poor, especially at this time of year. Whether or not they are members of our parish, we provide them assistance so that they too find joy in God’s coming. But if they are people who kneel with us in prayer, we naturally exert greater energy. They have a prior, although not an exclusive, claim on both our heart and our bounty.