Comfort my People
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the Lord’s hand Double for all her sins.”
(Isaiah 40:1-2 NKJV)
I don't know about you, but I notice a climate of absolute disorientation around me, we have lost the boundaries of our daily life, between prohibitions and restrictions, warnings and advice: we no longer know what or where normality is. Many are stuck in the quicksand of indecision and resignation, while desperation continues to find whom to attack through mourning or the loss of consolidated certainties such as work or an emotional relationship. Looking at the crowds with the eyes of Christ, a lump comes in the throat and the heart tightens, while a feeling of compassion prevails, because they are tired and exhausted like sheep that have no shepherd. It hurts to rediscover ourselves powerless or not up to the need. The desire for a holiday is not enough that even some people try to animate, we are involved in a wide-ranging war, and the effects are growing. In fact, the need for psychological support has grown since the beginning of the pandemic. Some statistics suggest that one in four people would need to undergo therapy. And this concerns every age group.
Before falling into any form of despondency, let us reread the text of Isaiah. May the verses of this meditation reach every person who needs consolation. These words open the section of Isaiah known as the “book of consolations”. The prophet tries to awaken the people forced into exile, those who are now prey to resignation and no longer have oil to keep the flame of hope burning. His words are a sound now disregarded, an announcement of liberation that rises from within, with a clear indication: "speak to the heart", "shout", "raise your voice". Everyone must know. God brings consolation by raising up comforters capable of speaking to the heart, men capable of seeing what others do not see, of hearing what others do not hear. I think we are in a time when people are tired of trumpets or spasmodic cackles. Whoever is able to encourage the people, then speak and cry, announcing that the tribulation is over and the sin has been forgiven, through the work of Christ, the Lord for whom the way was prepared. His coming and his sacrifice reconcile us to the Father, atoning for our sins. Only this can heal the afflicted and frightened heart. Nothing else but Jesus.
Even today we want to announce this consolation, made not of ceremonial words, but animated by the announcement of his coming, of his presence among us. In this perspective, the apostle's words resound timely: "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29). The people of Isaiah felt abandoned and hopeless, having lost their homeland, freedom, dignity and, with them, their trust in God. The prophet's appeal wants to reopen the heart to faith. It does not matter that there will be a desert to cross, because it will be the way to not only return home, but also to return to God, and return to hope and joy. When we are in the dark, in difficulties, the smile is what we lose first. And it is precisely hope that teaches us to smile in order to find that road that leads to God. Returning also means crossing the desert, that place refractory to human presence, hostile to life, but which evokes careful listening as we read in the prophet Hosea (2:14): “II will lead her into the wildernessand speak tenderly to her”. In the Bible, this place of death represents a place of rebirth. The image, that of the desert, which can be very significant in the current pandemic condition we live in, "But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
May the Spirit of God give me and inspire words that can shape lives, that can spread our arms and give birth to smiles, that can tear down walls and build bridges, that can embrace and touch even without touching: words that come out of the heart and speak to the heart of those who open up to the good news. May this prayer be yours too.
Weekly Bible Reading
Plan # 51
December 13, Hosea 12-14; Revelation 4
December 14, Joel; Revelation 5
December 15, Amos 1-3; Revelation 6
December 16, Amos 4-6; Revelation 7
December 17, Amos 7-9; Revelation 8
December 18, Obadiah; Revelation 9
December 19, Jonah; Revelation 10