Sunday Bible Reflections
Our God is coming. The time of exile— the long separation of humankind from God due to sin—is about to end. This is the good news proclaimed in today’s liturgy.
Isaiah in today’s First Reading promises Israel’s future release and return from captivity and exile. But as today’s Gospel shows, Israel’s historic deliverance was meant to herald an even greater saving act by God—the coming of Jesus to set Israel and all nations free from bondage to sin, to gather them up and carry them back to God.
Today’s Psalm paints a dreamlike scene—a road filled with liberated captives heading home to Zion (Jerusalem), mouths filled with laughter, tongues rejoicing.
It’s a glorious picture from Israel’s past, a “new exodus,” the deliverance from exile in Babylon. It’s being recalled in a moment of obvious uncertainty and anxiety. But the psalmist isn’t waxing nostalgic.
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.