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Friday, December 2, 2016

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Isaiah 29:17-24
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14
Matthew 9:27-31

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"Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest! On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see." —Isaiah 29:17-18

The word from today's eucharistic readings is "transformations." Tyrants who oppress their subjects "will be no more" and the arrogant who torment their neighbors "will have gone" (Is 29:20; see also Rv 18:2; Is 37:36-38). The deaf hear. The blind see. Lebanon, a nation known for its great forests, "shall be changed into an orchard" (Is 29:17). Lebanon's flag contains a cedar tree, and its legendary forests are referred to over seventy times in the Old Testament (e.g. Ps 92:13; 104:16; 2 Chr 2:7, 15). Over time, many of its legendary forests were cut down. Now, apples, peaches, oranges, and lemons, grown in orchards, are among Lebanon's major agricultural products. Such a change would have been difficult to imagine in Isaiah's time.

Although the above reversals involved physical situations, Isaiah's words also apply to spiritual transformations. For example, Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of Christians became its greatest evangelist, St. Paul (1 Tm 1:13-14). Are there people or sins in your life you can't imagine ever changing? Do you think your children, siblings, parents, neighbors, will never come to faith? Do you feel the Goliath of the culture of death can never be transformed into a civilization of life and love by the "Davids" who faithfully pray, fast, teach, and witness?

We believe in the "good news" of Jesus Christ (see Mk 1:1). God has the power to change anything, for "nothing is impossible with God" (Lk 1:37). On the cross, Jesus made the greatest transformation of all. He turned death into new life. Believe in the God of transformations. Believe the Advent Scriptures.

Prayer:  Father, increase my faith (Lk 17:5).

Promise:  "Because of your faith it shall be done to you." —Mt 9:29

Praise:  Thomas repented and had his vasectomy reversed.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 10, 2016

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