A: Is 11:1–10; Rom 15:4–9; Mt 3:1–12

B: Is 40:1–5, 9–11; 2 Pt 3:8–14; Mk 1:1–8

C: Bar 5:1–9; Phil 1:4–6, 8–11; Lk 3:1–6

Like Us

Scholars think John the Baptist mentored Jesus. In contrast to John, Jesus seems so ordinary—no weird clothes, no unusual diet, and generally not calling people “a brood of vipers.” Jesus is one with us. We try to place him on a pedestal, but he enters the flawed world of humanity and nestles beside us.


MONDAY: Is 35:1–10; Lk 5:17–26

Carried to Jesus

When we were “paralyzed” by grief or illness, what friends brought us to Jesus? Can we look back on such an experience with gratitude and astonishment? Can we “pay it forward” by helping someone else? If so, then the desert blooms.


TUESDAY: Is 40:1–11; Mt 18:12–14

Bedraggled. Beloved.

Today’s Advent calendar surprise might be a sheep, looking lost and forlorn. And if one word appeared, it would be comfort. Our God is crazy with love, seeking us even in thorny brambles.


WEDNESDAY: Is 40:25–31; Mt 11:28–30

Achingly Tired

The teenager wearing the T-shirt labeled “Cleaning Crew,” the weary waitress boarding the night bus—how gratefully they might hear “I will give you rest” or “they will soar on eagles’ wings . . . run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint” (Is 40:31).


THURSDAY: Is 41:13–20; Mt 11:11–15

Welcome Relief

In the 14th century, when people were described with the disparaging terms from Isaiah’s reading today, The Cloud of Unknowing offered beauty instead: “God’s . . . grace made you and redeemed you and gave you this work, which is love.”


FRIDAY: Is 48:17–19; Mt 11:16–19

Fingers Stuck in Our Ears?

Do we ever act like the children Jesus describes today, ignoring the music and refusing to dance? If so, we miss the chance to turn minds and hearts toward wonder and beauty.


SATURDAY: Sir 48:1–4, 9–11; Mt 17:9a, 10–13

Rubber and Road

After the Transfiguration account, we see the gritty reality of a boy whose own father calls him a lunatic. As we approach Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, it’s good to remember that much of the uplifting Scripture we read came from pain, turmoil, and bloodshed in Israel’s history. We’re not the only ones to face crises at Christmas!