Abundance and Harvest
- Reading I: Isaiah 30:19-21,23-26
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 147:1-2,5-6
- Gospel Reading: Matthew 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6-8
Once more, Isaiah paints a picture of Jerusalem’s future with the Lord. He who "waits to show you favor, shall rise to show His compassion" (Is.30:18). And when He does, the people of Zion "will no longer weep" (v. 19). Below is an outline of the verses from 20-26, a list of the graces the people of Zion can expect from their Gracious God:
- bread and water (20a)
- the Teacher’s palpable guidance and the sound of His voice (20b-22)
- rain for the sowing and rich produce (23a)
- abundance of cattle and work animals never lacking in food (23b-24)
- abundance of running water (25a)
- there will be no space for darkness (25b-26a)
- God the Healer’s presence among His people (26b)
Note that there will be no lack of bread and water in the city because the farm lands all around will be producing their fruits. No draughts will be experienced because the rain will come in its due time. These are the blessings of the Covenant made real not because of the people’s fidelity but because of the Lord’s faithfulness to it. God Himself will be in the midst of His people as the Teacher and Healer. He will instruct His people in the ways of holiness and care for them, bringing them health.
The liturgy puts the text of Matthew 9:35-10:8 side-by-side with the above text from Isaiah because of the prophecy about God being present among His people as Teacher and Healer. "Jesus went around … teaching … and curing every disease and illness"(Matthew 9:35). Jesus, who has been previously called "Son of David" (yesterday’s liturgy) is here the image of the Good Shepherd who has concern for the "lost sheep of Israel".
Notice that Jesus regards the crowds who has come to Him not as "harvest". His compassion upon the crowds first moves Him to tell his disciples to pray for more harvest workers. In the harvest imagery implied, two groups of workers are envisioned: those that will use the sickle, and those walking behind who will pick up what has been cut. In the Apocalypse, a figure of a Son of Man wearing a crown comes on a cloud with a sickle. The harvest of the Last Days begins now in the work of Jesus and his disciples. That is the Apocalypse. In Matthew, we find the vision of the "harvest" as an occassion for the sending of the Twelve.
In Matthew 10:1, as if being granted the prayer for more workers, Jesus sends forth the Twelve, associating them to His work by giving them the authority "to cast out demons and cure every disease and illness." They are to go to the lost sheep of Israel (v. 6) for now. Later, after His Resurrection, he will be sending the same group, already restored, to make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28)
Guidelines for Actualization
Advent is a time for taking stock of our Mission as Church. Everytime we are told at the end of the Mass, "Ite missa est", we are being sent out once more to bring the good news of salvation to a world that awaits it. Or to put this in terms of Matthew’s narration, we are sent to harvest. The seed that is Christ has been sown, watered by the blood of the martyrs, and now we see God’s harvest all around us.
How are you contributing to the Church’s work of "harvesting"?
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