A Reflection based on the Readings for Saturday, 9th December 2023

Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26      Matthew 9:35 – 10: 1,5,6-8

Matthew’s preferred image for Jesus is that of teacher. This is most evident in the Sermon on the Mount which takes up three chapters of his Gospel. The roots of this reach back into the scriptures of Israel when Isaiah reminds the people that God ‘is your teacher’. Today’s Gospel tells of Jesus travelling throughout ‘all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom’.

But as the Second Vatican Council – in its document on Divine Revelation – teaches us, ‘To this people which He had acquired for Himself, He so manifested Himself through words and deeds as the one true and living God’. Both Isaiah and Matthew make clear that revelation involves both word and work. The evangelist expresses the motive for this – ‘when [Jesus] saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd’. Message and mercy meet in revelation which one theologian has called ‘a verbal noun’. Thus revelation and salvation (from the Latin, salus, for health) are never separate, they are two sides of the one currency of God’s self-communication to humanity in history.

An educational and encouraging example of this faith in action is the photographic exhibition in the SMA Centre, Wilton (Cork) in the first week of Advent, entitled Daring to Hope – Irish Religious Sisters Embracing the Unknown (1923-2023). Here the history of their lives spent, at home and abroad, announces that faith and justice, truth and right action have been their motivation for mission. Dovetailing with today’s readings in Advent, the coming of God’s kingdom is both anticipated and awaited.

Fr Kevin O’Gorman SMA

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