Our Pious Disbelief in “God-With-Us”

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Isaiah 7:10-17
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-25

King Ahaz – the king in today’s prophecy from Isaiah – is a man standing in great fear. To understand why, we have to go back a few verses to get the context of this passage. Two of Ahaz’s nearest enemies have united against him: the Northern Kingdom of Israel (a Jewish nation that had, in previous days, been part of a united kingdom with Judah), and Aram, a non-Jewish nation. Ahaz fears the bloodshed and destruction that war inevitably brings.

We, today, can understand Ahaz’s fear. Surely we have all been in some kind of position like that where we have stood among enemies, where no help or hope seems to be found. Read more

Sacrifice

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Luke 12:32-40

“God is raging in the prophet’s words,” says Abraham Heschel. In the vision of Isaiah, the word of the Lord scorches every act of the people’s worship and prayer.

What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? Trample my courts no more. Bringing offerings is futile. I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Your appointed festivals my soul hates. Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

This is the message to faithful temple-goers! How could things go so wrong? Read more