Intention: That in this season of hospitality and generosity, all of us will make a special place for those whose lives are wounded by need, misfortune or injustice.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 21:23-27
When Jesus had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them in reply, “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things. Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.” So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” He himself said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
A Short Reflection for the Third Monday of Advent
What does it mean to be poor? While this might strike some as a strange thing to ask, it has been an important question for persons whose religious charism and ministerial tradition has been to focus on serving the poor. Who is it that we are truly called to be with and how? To begin, it would seem that, in essence, poverty is the absence of options. Someone who is poor has no access to any responsible and dignified means to making a different life. In other words, to be poor is to have no choice other than to be poor. For Jesus, it was the lack of this opportunity that was at the core of the problem. Whenever he spoke of the suffering of the poor, he almost always characterized it in terms of society’s neglect, saving his greatest moral outrage for people’s lack of compassion for those who were in need. Regardless of whatever may have put persons into poverty, Jesus made clear that it was the world’s sinfulness that was keeping them there. As instruments of God’s love and builders of his Kingdom, it is up to us to stand with the poor – calling attention to their plight, advocating for their cause, working with them for change. Above all, we must create new choices for our world. It is not enough that we provide sustenance from the table; we must ensure that all have the means to join the table themselves. As Pope Francis has said, “A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.” As we continue our journey through Advent, with its message of hope and healing, we are challenged to commit ourselves to working toward a world where, as Jesus insisted, all may have life and have it to the full.
Eternal Father, we always are in your presence, but sometimes we make ourselves too much the center of everything and so do not recognize you. As we remember how your Son first came to us in simplicity and ordinariness, let us see you in every person that we meet. Let us hear you in both the laughter and the cries that reach our ears. May others know you through how we live our own lives, and may all of us learn the lessons that you have placed in our struggles and our successes. We ask this of you who lives with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.