In today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah, in words directed first to the Hebrew exiles in Babylon and then to us, the Lord sends a message of hope; he will teach us what is for our good. “If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea.”

But as is clear from the Gospel, not everyone will accept God’s message. They will find reasons to reject it. They rejected John the Baptist because of his severe asceticism. He is mad, they claimed. They then accused Jesus of gluttony and drunkenness because he ate and drank with tax collectors and those outside the law.

As we approach Christmas, we can ask ourselves whether we are truly open to welcome him, or do we search for reasons not to be so. We pray for courage to be honest with the Lord as we proceed through Advent.

—Fr. Bob Bireley, SJ, is a member of the St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, WI.








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