ISAIAH 35:1-6A | JAMES 5:7-10 | MATTHEW 11:2-11
As we read the Advent scriptures we can feel a dramatic pressure building. There’s anticipation and a deep sense of hope within us. Think of the messianic prophecies Isaiah proclaimed to us over the past three weeks.
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” “Strengthen the hand of the feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong fear not! Here is your God.”
When we think of the messiah and the new world to come, we’re filled with hope, which is the core of our Advent commemoration. But these words of hope can, and often do, backfire on us. We listen to these wonderful prophecies, and then look at the world we live in. We see the war in Ukraine, the heartbreaking starvation in parts of the world, the results of global warming, political corruption, a global refugee crisis – and on and on. It’s no wonder that there’s so much depression during the holidays. We’re torn between hope and despair.
James, in the portion of his letter that we read today, gives us some good spiritual advice. “Be patient brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and late rains. You too must be patient.”
Yes, we must be patient but also deeply dedicated to the work of the promised kingdom. The messianic time will come through people like me and you who relentlessly work for justice, harmony, forgiveness and healing. In today’s first reading, Isaiah warns us that this work will be challenging, so he lifts up a prayer for us. “Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: ‘Be strong, fear not! Here is your God.’”
Let’s recommit ourselves to the work of hope today. Let’s recommit ourselves to do the work of justice, reconciliation and healing as we pray during the Eucharist we celebrate today. “Our Father in heaven, we bless your name. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”