Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr
Monday of the Third Week of Lent
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we feel the Church moving ever closer to the miracle of Christmas. The prophet Zephaniah, not quite as lyrically as Isaiah, paints a picture of who is ready for that miracle – because it is a fact: some will be able to receive it, and some will not.
Thus says the LORD:Zephaniah 3:1-2
Woe to the city, rebellious and polluted,
to the tyrannical city!
She hears no voice,
accepts no correction;
In the LORD she has not trusted,
to her God she has not drawn near.
But the prophet also makes clear that there will be a “remnant people” in whose hearts the miracle will take life:
I will leave as a remnant in your midstZephaniah 3:12-13
a people humble and lowly,
Who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD:
the remnant of Israel.
They shall do no wrong
and speak no lies;
Nor shall there be found in their mouths
a deceitful tongue;
They shall pasture and couch their flocks
with none to disturb them..
As Jesus told the chief priests and elders in our Gospel:
“Amen, I say to you,Matthew 21: 31-32
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
Our readings today reiterate a truth that threads through all of scripture: the “Kingdom” is composed of the least likely in the world’s eyes. Wealth, power, influence, or appearances don’t cut it. Faith and dependence on God define the “remnant” who are God’s people.
I don’t think there are a lot of tax collectors among my readers, and probably not too many prostitutes either. 🙂 So who are we when we take a good look at ourselves? Are we our power, money or upper hand in the world? Or are we faithful souls who try to keep our hearts open to the Divine call to love God and our neighbor?
The more we try to be the latter, the more we will comprehend the Miracle we celebrate just twelve days from now.
Prose: Advent Credo – Allan Boesak (from Walking Among Thorns)
It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,
hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.
It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God,
the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil
who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth,
and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,
who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.
It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice,
of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now,
that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.
So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.
Music: Just after today’s passage from Zephaniah, the prophet preaches in a more reassuring tone in verse 17. I thought you might like to pray with it.