3rd Week of Advent, Monday, Dec 14

Numbers 26:2-7, 15-17 / Matthew 21:23-27 

Balaam prophesies: A star shall advance from Jacob. 

Douglas Hyde was an English journalist who disliked the Catholic Church. One day he bought an anti-Catholic book to use in his attacks against the Church. The book had just the opposite effect on him. It led him into the Church. Something similar to this happened to Balaam in today’s reading. He set out to curse Israel, but ended up blessing her instead. Early church writers considered the words about the star in today’s reading as a prophetic reference to the star that directed the Magi to Jesus.


How open are we to changing our minds when truth reveals itself to us? “God, give us the courage to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish One from the Other.” Reinhold Niebuhr


We know what a dilemma is. It is a perplexing situation in which a choice has to be made between alternatives that are equally undesirable. Going by that definition, if I may put it simply, it is a choice of the best among the worst.


In today's gospel, that was the situation that the chief priests and the elders found themselves in. They challenged Jesus' authority but in turn found themselves being challenged and, in a dilemma, as to how to answer that question of Jesus. So they ended up choosing the worst of the worst alternatives with that reply: We do not know. Or in simple terms: No comment.

In the 1st reading, we hear of another dilemma. The pagan prophet Balaam was tasked to curse Israel, but when the Spirit of God came upon him, he faced a dilemma but made the choice to revoke his curse and instead bless Israel. Whenever we face a dilemma, we think of the worst-case scenarios and try to choose the one that will result in the least problems and difficulties.

 But when we put the dilemma into the hands of God and ask the Spirit to guide us, then we will see the best-case scenarios because we know that in each alternative there is growth and enlightenment. So, whenever we face a dilemma, let us not curse the alternatives that we have to choose. Rather, let us ask the Lord for His blessings and also ask the Spirit to guide us in making a choice. Every dilemma is an opportunity to experience the blessing and the guidance of God.


A STAR FROM JACOB                         

“We want to be liberated from those illusions, frustrations, injustices and repression to which the modern world has subjected us in violation of its promises – this is what the young are saying, the disinherited, the automatons of modern technology: we want to be free persons, real persons, people rescued from hunger and from the spiral of incurable inferiority. Yes, answers the Man of people: come to me all of you who are in tribulation and I will console you. I am with you, with the power of the Spirit, not with violence and “but with passion.” Wisdom alone liberates the world.” Paul VI, Christmas Message, Dec. 25, 1970.

Let us pray:

Lord, our God, in a world of injustice, war and exploitation, in which more and more people have the means to live but not many reasons to live for, you promise us a star to follow, Jesus, your Son. God, keep in us the hope alive, that he will come today and that, if we are willing to take the demands of the Gospel seriously, we can become indeed a new people completely renewed in him, Christ our Savior, for ever and ever.