2nd Thursday in Advent
Isaiah 41: 13 – 20; Ps 145; Matthew 11: 11 – 15
The reading from Isaiah presents God as grasping Israel right hand in a gesture of love and peace and God’s words underline this: “Fear not, I will help you!” The next words to Israel are rather unusual words of address to anyone: “O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel!” Anything is possible but I hardly think a man would say to his wife, “You are my little maggot” or she to her husband, “And you are the worm of my life!” These are not the usual words of endearment, of what is known as sweet talk!
Yet, the Lord has said such to Israel. The worm, the maggot in themselves cannot be considered evil and by nature, they do what worms and maggots do in God’s plan of creation. I believe the Lord is criticizing Israel’s poor response to His covenant in that, like a worm living in the ground, Israel flees the light that is God Himself and in great ignorance seeks the darkness of idolatry. Israel is like a maggot devouring what is decayed and dead, neither trusting in nor seeking God’s living word, the word for which they were created and chosen
Yet, with all that, the Lord does not give up on Israel; there is never a threat of abandonment. God never washes His hands of them. Just the opposite, in this passage from Isaiah there are nine promises of help that follow upon the Lord’s criticism. Again and again “I will help you…I will answer them…I will not forsake them…I will” again and again relentlessly. God’s love for His people is clear, defined, steadfast, strong and is not deterred by their unfaithfulness, nor by ours. Human infidelity does not in the least diminish God’s own divine freedom to love, to be merciful because the Lord says, “I will help you, your Redeemer is the Holy one of Israel.”
In the responsorial psalm we prayed: “The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all His works.” On Tuesday, the Holy Father inaugurated the Holy Year of Mercy, the ever-present Divine Mercy of the Redeemer, the compassion ever flowing from the heart of God and flowing upon and into us at this moment in this Holy Eucharist.
The Lord’s word to Israel is very much addressed to us at this time: “That all may see and know, observe and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.” In knowing this truth, we are abundantly graced and in living this truth we are truly His sons and daughters and in becoming this more and more, we affirm and embrace God’s love by which we were created and in which we are chosen.