Isaiah 4: 1-5, 9-11 – 2 Peter 3: 9-14 – Mark 12: 1-8
It takes an individual of with a deep reservoir of faith and trust in God to speak, as Isaiah does, to a defeated and demoralized people, and tell them about comfort and tenderness. These were a Chosen People, convinced that they were a people protected by God. But now they were suffering the consequences of their infidelity in the relationship with God. They were a Chosen People yet they were without country, Temple, or any real power. What hope could be theirs? What vision could they have?
Yet a voice cries out to them. The glory of God the Lord will be known. Fear not, they are told, Here is your God – the God who will lead them; the God who will rule them; the God who will love them with the tenderness of a shepherd carrying a lamb in his arms.
The imagery is magnificent. The God whom Isaiah proclaims is the God of our faith. Isaiah announces this message not knowing the fullness of God’s plan, not knowing how God would come to us.. God would come to us in the person of Jesus Christ. God would abide with us in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ given to us in the Eucharist.
The fulfillment of that hope and that trust is what we celebrate at this time of the year. It is what calls on us to prepare the way of the lord. It is by our lives lived with faith that every valley will be filled: every valley of failure, of loneliness, of despair. It is by our lives lived with faith that every mountain and hill is brought low: every mountain of prided and envy, every hill of judgement and insecurity. When we determine to make this happen, then the glory of the Lord will be revealed. All the world will see it. All the world will recognize the source and the end of all that is. All the world will recognize that the true meaning of life, the true object of our living is union with our loving God. All our lives will be directed at making God revealed and known.
This is no longer just a hope or a vision. It is a reality which is present to us and with us. It is in Christ in whom we believe. It is in Christ whom we share in Eucharist. But the magnificent message of comfort and peace is still unheeded. We, ourselves, fail to fully grasp it. We allow anxiety, tension, misunderstanding and hurt to rule us. We seek escapes in chemical sand false love. We choose fleeting pleasures that leave us empty. This we do rather than finding true peace of mind and heart and spirit in an ever-growing relationship with our loving God.
Prepare the way of the Lord we are told. If the God in whom we have faith is to be known in our world and is to be reflected in our lives, we must open our minds, our hearts and our spirits to the value, the dignity, the worth every person and all creation possess because we are so tenderly loved by our good and gracious God.