Comfort, Give Comfort To My People!
Advent reminds us that the time of exile is over. God has taken away the punishment due to sin. He extends his hands of mercy to all who feel left out, weighed down by sin, abandoned, unloved, or in pain. God is doing something so marvelous; in fact, he is doing something that goes beyond our imagination. He begins by eliminating sin, the source of darkness in our lives. Sin brings sadness and sorrow because it separates us from God, the true source of happiness.
To those overwhelmed by the challenges of life, today hear these most comforting and assuring words from God. He speaks through his prophet Isaiah: “Comfort, give comfort to my people…and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.” Who can outdo God with such kindness and tenderness? God has no equal. This is just the beginning of what God has planned for his people.
First, we must be ready to receive the fullness of God’s goodness. The voice in the desert urges everyone to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord by lowering the mountains of pride, poverty, and violence; likewise, to fill up the valley of hatred, selfishness, and greed with the blessings that God pours upon us. The voice is calling us to repent. John the Baptist takes it a step further by asking that we make the way straight. This beautiful expression demands examination of our consciences. The rough spots, those sinful stains, are to be erased and rough edges are to be made smooth so that nothing stands in the way of our total renewal.
When we say no to sin and all the works of the Devil, this act becomes our desert experience of the exodus. God is leading us through the treacherous and uneven road of life. And with him, the journey of life becomes refreshing. The old order must give way. Jesus Christ is coming to introduce us to a new way of life. So be open to receive him who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. John speaks of him as one who is mightier and who completes the promise God made to his people.
It is exciting to prepare for his coming. Think about it; it is the presence of the Son of God in human flesh. So close to us that one cannot but wonder how we deserve such an honor and a gift. But if he did not come, then we would be doomed and left to perish in our sinfulness. Jesus Christ comes, not as accuser and judge, but as a comforter to a people bruised and broken by our sin.
Today we see the face of God’s compassion. Christ’s coming enriches your present life. He makes you firm in faith, joyful in hope and active in charity. Welcome him with all your heart.
Grace and Peace to You,
Fr. Vitalis Anyanike