Saturday of the First Week of Advent – Mt 9:35–10:1, 5A, 6-8
As we make our way through the first week of Advent, today’s readings all remind us of how the upcoming feast at Christmas, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ among us, is an incredible act of mercy on the part of God the Father.
In the first reading, Isaiah paints a beautiful picture of what God’s love and mercy is like. We’re told that “No more will you weep; He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears he will answer you. The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst. No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher. . . . On the day the LORD binds up the wounds of his people, he will heal the bruises left by his blows.” For the Israelites, who had suffered greatly, these words must’ve sounded almost too good to be true. God will be gracious to them, and give them so much that they will never cry again.
Likewise, in the Psalm, we heard that God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He tells the number of the stars; he calls each by name.” Commenting on this second part, regarding the stars, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem sets the Psalm in the context of God’s greatness and love for His people. He writes: “If anyone undertakes to speak of the attributes of God, let him first describe the bounds of the earth. Though you dwell on the earth, you do not know the limit of your dwelling place; how then will you be able to form a worthy concept of its Creator? You see the stars, but their Maker you do not see; first, number the stars, which are seen, and then set forth Him who is not seen; ‘He tells the number of the stars; He calls each by name.’ The recent violent rains all but destroyed us; number the drops of rain in this city alone; rather, not in the city, but number the drops that fell on your own house in a single hour, if you can. . . . From this learn the power of God. For ‘He has numbered the raindrops’ poured down on the whole earth, not only now but through all time.” It is this God, who knows everything, who loves us dearly, who comes to us.
This is precisely the point of the Gospel today. We see Jesus “moved compassion,” and, far from sitting back, He does something: He sends His apostles as laborers, but also as His emissaries, His ambassadors, to bring His salvation to anyone who is willing to receive it.
In the midst of so many difficulties and so much business, it is good to be reminded of God’s love for us. It is His mercy and compassion that we celebrate this season; the fact that God becomes man for us is a huge grace, and one that we should be constantly mindful of.
On the same token, we should examine ourselves regarding how we live our faith. Do we live in fear, as though God’s love and mercy were almost too good to be true? Do we really believe that He has counted all the stars and that, if He knows each ball of burning gas individually, He will care much more for us, who are made in His image and likeness?
Lastly, we are reminded of the need to pray for vocations. It is the priest who in a particular way “multiplies Christmas,” because he makes Christ present on the altar at every Mass.
Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Expectation, let’s pray that God send more workers into His harvest, and that we might come to fully appreciate God’s love and mercy as revealed at Christmas with the birth of the Son of God.