Branch and Fruit

In today’s first reading, the Prophet Isaiah is speaking to the people of Israel in the 8th century before Christ. In earlier verses, he has reminded them of their responsibilities as the qahal Yahweh, the people of God – their duties to the poor, the orphaned, the widows, and the strangers among them. In the verses that come immediately before our reading, Isaiah is quite clear that their enemies, the Assyrians, will be the means by which they are punished unless they repent of their ways and soften their hearts. Continue reading

Jesus and John

This coming Sunday is the 2nd Sunday of Advent in Lectionary Cycle A. As is the tradition of the Church, this Sunday and next prominently feature John the Baptist. The gospel reading is the scene in which John first appears in Matthew’s gospel with his singular message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mt 3:2). It is the gospel in which Matthew says of John, “A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” (v.3) The former passage sounds as though more Lenten in tone with the latter passage quite suited to Advent. Continue reading