Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.
Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“Speak tenderly” — these words to a community that has lost everything: its land, its temple, and seemingly its God.
In desolation God’s promise remains, and God desires to speak “tenderly” —literally “to the heart”— of Israel a word of comfort that penetrates more deeply than anxiety and lays a new foundation of hope.
These words assuredly shaped the faith of Mary and Joseph, who knew their God to be one of comfort and tenderness, a God who cares for the lowly and destitute. This is the faith that made rough places smooth…that allowed Joseph to call off a divorce and embrace his young wife…and that allowed Mary to accept the gift of God’s son in her very womb.
During this season of hopeful waiting, how am I being comforted? How am I comforting others? How can I comfort others?
The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end for anything in us that is not yet Christ.