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The Fourth Sunday Before Advent

Isaiah 1.10–18
2 Thessalonians 1.1–12
Luke 19.1–10

The temptation with today’s three readings is to go straight for the story of Zacchaeus. It’s warm, vivid and has a happy ending. But the other two readings remind us that Zacchaeus’ choice is not the one that everyone makes.

For Isaiah, holiness is the most definitive characteristic of God. The account of his calling as a prophet (see Isaiah 6) shows the splendour and majesty of God, surrounded by his seraphs, his train filling the temple. The contrast between God and the prophet could not be more marked. With such a vision always in his memory, Isaiah can scarcely believe the stupidity and foolhardy pride of God’s people, who think they can disobey such a God with impunity...

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