THIRD SUNDAY (Gaudete “Rejoice” Sunday)
A: Is 35:1–6a, 10; Jas 5:7–10; Mt 11:2–11
B: Is 61:1–2a, 10–11; 1 Thes 5:16–24; Jn 1:6–8, 19–28
C: Zep 3:14–18a; Phil 4:4–7; Lk 3:10–18
What might John the Baptist answer us if we asked, “What then should we do?” Are we “filled with expectation” as Luke describes the crowds? Or are we too bored, numb, busy?
MONDAY: Nm 24:2–7, 15–17a; Mt 21:23–27
Blessing, Not Curse
The pagan ruler Balak, threatened by the Israelites, wants his prophet Balaam to curse them. But Balaam speaks only as God directs. He blesses the tents, comparing the Hebrew encampment to gardens, cedars, and wells. In the same way, God’s coming as Jesus is announced as blessing, not terror or dread. We have nothing to fear from our God who delights in us.
TUESDAY: Zep 3:1–2, 9–13; Mt 21:28–32
Not the “Holy Souls”
Zephaniah proclaims, “You will not be ashamed of all your deeds.” He foretells a Jesus who’s unimpressed by the braggart, pleasing son who eventually does nothing, but is impressed by the son who gives the wrong answer—and by extension those who don’t fit the narrow parameters of virtue, the despised of his society. This God, surprisingly, welcome even us.
WEDNESDAY: Is 45:6c–8, 18, 21b–25; Lk 7:18b–23
His Work Continues
Imagine the places where Jesus’ work happens today: in optometrists’ and audiologists’ offices, rehabilitation centers, drug-treatment facilities, ESL classrooms, grief-counseling groups, hospitals. As in Isaiah, the gentle rain still falls; the buds of justice open.
THURSDAY: Is 54:1–10; Lk 7:24–30
A Quiet Island in the Jollity
To those who mourn or feel lonely, God offers the deepest assurance: “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back” (Is 54:7). It’s a lovely promise to repeat while falling asleep.
FRIDAY: Is 56:1–3a, 6–8; Jn 5:33–36
At this time of year, parents anticipate visits from adult children and grandchildren; siblings await each other; lovers yearn for reunions. Jesus is also a long-desired meeting point: the human and divine intersecting. All the obstacles, rules, and hoop-jumping of earlier attempts to placate an angry, distant God end with Christ coming sweetly and simply as an infant.