December 15, 2014
Monday 3rd Week of Advent
Nm 24: 2-7, 15-17a / Ps 25: 4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9 / Mt 21: 23-27
Reading: Nm 24: 2-7, 15-17a
He looked up and saw Israel camping, tribe by tribe; and the spirit of God came upon him and he uttered his song: "Word of Balaam, son of Beor, the seer, the one who hears the words of God, and beholds the vision of the Almighty, in ecstasy, with eyes unveiled. How goodly are your tents, Jacob, your encampments, Israel! Like valleys stretching far, like gardens beside a stream, like aloes planted by Yahweh, like cedars beside the waters. His buckets are overflowing and his seeds are always watered. His king becomes stronger than Agag, and his kingdom grows. Then Balaam pronounced his oracle: "Word of Balaam, son of Beor, the seer, the one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Most High, and sees the vision of the Almighty, in ecstasy, with eyes unveiled. I see a figure, but not really.
Gospel: Matthew 21: 23-27
Jesus had entered the Temple and was teaching when the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the Jewish authorities came to him and asked, "What authority have you to act like this? Who gave you authority to do all this?" Jesus answered them, "I will also ask you a question, only one. And if you give me an answer, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. When John began to baptize, was it a work of God, or was it merely something human?" They reasoned out among themselves, "If we reply that it was a work of God, he will say: Why, then, did you not believe him? And if we say: The baptism of John was merely something human, beware of the people: since all hold John as a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what right I do these things."
We are in the middle of the Advent season. The readings today call us to remember that this season is one of recognizing anew who Jesus is, the Son of God, the promised Messiah. In the first reading, the prophet Balaam draws our attention to a star that will come from the tribe of Jacob. In the Gospel reading, we hear that the chief priests challenge the authority of Jesus.
Two approaches to life seem to be represented in these two scripture readings. In the oracle of Balaam, we have a prophet who is attentive to God. Balaam knows God's presence. He hears God's words and sees what God shows him. Balaam knows with a kind of faith that is sure but which he cannot prove by logic or fact. On the other hand, in the gospel reading we hear the chief priests who focus on the more concrete. They want credentials from Jesus. Balaam speaks of a vision. In it he sees a star that will come from Jacob. He also sees a staff, representing a leader who will rise from Israel.
These prophecies probably applied directly to the rise of the house of King David and of the Davidic monarch. However, hearing these words in the spirit of Advent. We can also understand them as a foreshadowing of the rise of the star which the Magi followed, and the staff which could be Jesus leading us back to the Father.
During the remaining days of our Advent preparation, let us strive to recognize how Jesus is our staff, our leader, and our star.
We pray …
… for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn
… for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary
… for families who are in need of healing
… for world peace and reconciliation
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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