Thursday of the First Week of Advent
(Isaiah 26:1-6; Matthew 7:21.24-27)
The poor often come to parish offices looking for handouts. Not untypically, they beg for cash to pay rent or purchase gasoline. The requests are sometimes denied partly because of limited resources but also because staff members frequently are not sure whether the petitioners are telling the truth. If the needy were members of the congregation, the staff would likely 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 the one 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 upend the arrogant and to lift up of the lowly. It also says that God provides a strong city with high walls to protect the humble. The city here can refer 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 help them meet their needs so that they too find joy in God’s coming. But if they are people who kneel with us in prayer, we will naturally exert greater energy. They would have a prior, although not an exclusive, claim on both our hearts and our bounty.