Today's readings can be found here.
If anyone ever felt discouraged, it was the Israelites. They were constantly turning away from God and suffering as a result. Their exile from Jerusalem, captivity and slavery in Babylon were all a punishment because they turned away. Our own lives may mirror theirs at times. We may feel far from God, and captive or enslaved by the grind of day to day life. The good news is that today isn't a day for discouragement. It isn't a day for worry and sadness. Today is a day of hope.
We all long to be with someone who understands us, who knows us – deeply, intimately and who does not judge us. We long to be held close when we are suffering, and feel free from fear. In these times, we call upon friends, and family to help us. We should call upon our God. One of the large messages of Advent is “Our salvation is at hand! Our Savior is coming! Our Savior is here!”
God isn't a distant deity. He came to this very earth and walked among us. He was born, played with his childhood friends, was tempted by childhood things, teenager things, and adult things. In Christ Jesus, we have a savior who understands our human weaknesses. He understands how hard it is to be a part of this human race. When he offered Himself on the cross, he gave us a ticket to freedom. He claimed us as His own.
Since we have been claimed by Christ in our baptism, we are a part of God's chosen people. The first reading from the prophet Baruch says, “for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.” Promises that apply to Israel, apply to us as well. God wants to lead us in joy. He is giving us His mercy and justice. He promises a smooth path. The mountains will be made low and the valleys will be filled in. We do not have to walk these hard roads alone. In these readings, we are reminded that God is reaching out to help us. He is reaching out to save us. This is the advent of our Savior.
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