Sunday Bible Reflections
Every Advent, the Liturgy of the Word gives our sense of time a reorientation. There’s a deliberate tension in the next four
weeks’ readings—between promise and fulfillment, expectation and deliverance, between looking forward and looking back.
In today’s First Reading, the prophet Jeremiah focuses our gaze on the promise God made to David, some 1,000 years before
Christ. God says through the prophet that He will fulfill this promise by raising up a “just shoot,” a righteous offspring of David, who will rule Israel in justice (see 2 Samuel 7:16; Jeremiah 33:17; Psalm 89:4–5; 27–38).
What’s the truth Jesus comes to bear witness to in this last Gospel of the Church’s year?
It’s the truth that in Jesus God keeps the promise He made to David of an everlasting kingdom, of an heir who would be His Son, “the first born, highest of the kings of the earth” (see 2 Samuel 7:12–16; Psalm 89:27–38).
In this, the second-to-last week of the Church year, Jesus has finally made it to Jerusalem.
Near to His passion and death, He gives us a teaching of hope—telling us how it will be when He returns again in glory.
We must live by the obedience of faith, a faith that shows itself in works of charity and self-giving (see Galatians 5:6). That’s the lesson of the two widows in today’s liturgy.
The widow in the First Reading isn’t even a Jew, yet she trusts in the word of Elijah and the promise of his Lord. Facing sure starvation, she gives all that she has, her last bit of food—feeding the man of God before herself and her family.
Love is only law we are to live by. And love is the fulfillment of the Law that God reveals through Moses in today’s First Reading (see Romans 13:8–10; Matthew 5:43–48).
The unity of God—the truth that He is one God, Father, Son, and Spirit—means that we must love Him with one love, a love that serves Him with all our hearts and minds, souls and strength.
Today’s Gospel turns on an irony—it is a blind man, Bartimaeus, who becomes the first person outside of the Apostles to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. And his healing is the last miracle Jesus performs before entering the holy city of Jerusalem for His last week on earth.
The scene on the road to Jerusalem evokes the joyful procession prophesied by Jeremiah in today’s First Reading. In Jesus this prophecy is fulfilled. God, through the Messiah, is delivering His people from exile, bringing them back from the ends of the earth, with the blind and lame in their midst.
The sons of Zebedee hardly know what they’re asking in today’s Gospel. They are thinking in terms of how the Gentiles rule, of royal privileges and honors.
But the road to Christ’s kingdom is by way of His Cross. To share in His glory, we must be willing to drink the cup that He drinks.