Daily Reflection
December 15th, 2003
Deb Fortina
Academic Affairs
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Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17a
Psalm 25
Matthew 21:23-27

“…I behold him, though not near:  A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel.
Numbers 24:17a 

“…Your ways, OLORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior…”
Psalm 25: 4-5ab

“…Where was John’s baptism from?  Was it of heavenly or of human origin?...
Matthew 21:25

As we continue into the Third week of Advent, we are invited to be watchful for “the Lord is near”.  What a great reminder, even though the Lord is always near, dwelling inside of us, during this time of year the message becomes all the more real to us. 

In our Old Testament reading from the Book of Numbers, we hear a Messianic prophecy from Balaam, a soothsayer or foreteller, who had been summoned by Balak, the King of Moab, to curse the Israelites because they were growing so large in number and he feared being overtaken by them.  But instead Balaam hears God speak to him, persuading him to bless the Israelites rather than follow the Kings wishes to curse them. In the midst of his fourth oracle of praise and blessings he says “A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel.” (Num. 24:17)  Christ is both star and staff in this reference.

In the reading in Matthew, we find Jesus teaching in the temple when the chief priests and elders approach and question his authority.  Jesus answers their question with a question, for which they reply they do not know the answer, and Jesus comes back with “…Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Mt. 21:27) Jesus’ statement assumes he does not hold them in authority to answer their questions since they couldn’t answer his question.  Reading page after page of the good works that Jesus performed it is hard to imagine the line of questioning that the Jewish people had for Jesus back then.  From Christ’s teaching with authority in the temple to his curing the sick and dying how could you not see Jesus as the Anointed One, the Son of God?  Compare this scene of Christ’s authority being questioned, to the scene of John the Baptist who in seeing Jesus walk by, calls him the Lamb of God, the One whom the world has been awaiting.  What is the difference between the eyesight of the beholders in these two scenes from Christ’s time here on earth?  I believe the amount of time John the Baptist spent in prayer explains it for me.

May we feel the invitation to spend the remainder of this holy season until Christmas making more time for personal prayer, perhaps seeking the silence of the desert.  There we will meet the God who is with us all the time, and like John the Baptist and Balaam from today’s reading in the Book of Numbers our eyes will be opened to see with new sight.  Christ’s Peace to You…Happy Advent.


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