Year B: Year of Mark
Second Sunday in Advent
First Reading: Isaiah 40: 1-5 9-11
The First Reading draws from the riches of the Old Testament. It is chosen to complement the Gospel - but is not intended to stand in its shadow, rather it offers its own integrity and wisdom to the Liturgy of the Word.
Todayís Reading is one of the most famous from the prophet Isaiah and speaks of a tender and loving God who has seen the suffering of His people - and feels compassion for them. Prophets are often called to challenge Godís people - but they are also called to comfort and console them.
At the time Isaiah was writing, the Exile was weighing heavily on the people - the yearning to go home intense. Isaiah sees that the end is in sight - God will intervene in history and bring His people home.
This is not a message passed from one to another in hushed tones - this is a message filled with confidence to be proclaimed without fear by a joyful messenger from the top of high mountains.
God is coming with power - all that is evil will fall before Him. But His power is tempered with gentleness. God is the shepherd who will gather His scattered people. He will not drive them before Him - but will gather His little ones in His arms and carry them, leading the mothers to places of rest.
The message of Isaiah rings in our own ears today. People live in a different kind of Exile - distant from God - often distant from their own souls. The message needs to be heard today as much as it did when Isaiah first proclaimed it. People need to be comforted and consoled and assured that the trials will pass - that God will come to save them - easing their burdens and drawing them close to Himself.
What does it mean for me?
Who are todayís messengers?
Who is God sending to prepare the way before Him in our own day?
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