Reading 1 Is 40:1-11
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
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!”
I answer, “What shall I cry out?”
“All flesh is grass,
and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it.
So then, the people is the grass.
Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
the word of our God stands forever.”
Go up onto a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.
The Prophet Isaiah offers us hope and challenge in Advent. The four weeks of Advent become a school of prayer and prophesy if we learn to listen with our full hearts and attention. Isaiah is our master teacher, our mentor in Advent.
Isaiah shows us that our lives and our world will wither and fade but not the glory of God within us. God is our surety and hope for all life. In fact, God will run toward us to find us in ways we least expect. God will gather us into his fold and heal us. God will hold our tired bodies and give us comfort. God will lead us when we stray.
Today, we need to lean into the mystery of our prophets. The prophets shed light and hope in the midst of our sex scandals and institutional darkness. We are called and invited to cleanse our souls. We are challenged to trust in God and yet we cling to our self-righteousness. We have abandoned our children. We resist communion with our enemies. We are quick to divide and to take sides. We point our fingers in blame. Only God can show us the way through this incredible darkness.
God promises to reach out to the lost and today we are all lost. Today, hope is at hand if we believe that God is calling us more deeply into integrity, justice and peace. In this Advent, the Church calls out to our ancestors for help and direction. Let us trust the words of Isaiah, “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.”