Summary: God has forgiven their sins and has reclaimed them as His own people. What good news that was for them and what good news for all those who seek to be God’s today.
A story came across my desk recently about a man who worked for the Post Office. This man’s job was to process all the mail that had illegible addresses that that computer scanning system could not decipher.
One day, a letter came to his desk addressed in shaky handwriting to God. He thought he should open it to see what it was about. He opened it and read these words:
Dear God, I am a 91-year-old widow, living on a very small pension. Yesterday someone stole my purse. It had $ 100 in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension check. Next Sunday is Christmas, and I had invited two of my friends over for dinner. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no family to turn to, and you are my only hope. Can you please help me? Sincerely, Edna.
The postal worker was touched. He showed the letter to his fellow workers. Each of them dug into their pockets and came up with a few dollars. By the time he made the rounds, he had collected $96, which was put into an envelope and sent to the woman. The rest of the day, all the workers felt a warm glow for the kind thing that they done.
Christmas came and went. A few days later another letter came from the old lady addressed to God. All of the workers gathered around while the letter was opened. It read:
“Dear God, How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me? Because of your gift of love, I was able to fix a glorious dinner for my friends. We had a very nice day and I told my friends of your wonderful gift. By the way, there was $ 4 missing. I think it must have been those thieves at the Post Office. Sincerely, Edna.
Our First Reading form Isaiah 40 says “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God… Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
That…her guilt is expiated, her sins forgiven.
That verse has to do with the punishment of the Israel when the Babylonian Army destroyed Jerusalem, and the people were marched off to Babylon. In the course of time, the exiles married, built homes, had children and settled into the new land. The Prophet Jeremiah told them they would be there for 70 years. So they did their best they could in their new surroundings. Still, they were away from home and from the Temple—-away from everything that gave them their sense of identity. Those were years of longing a mourning for what had been.
God has forgiven their sins and has reclaimed them as His own people. What good news that was for them and what good news for all those who seek to be God’s today.
Notice the word comfort contains the word “fort” within. Fort means strong. “Forte” in music is the place where the music is played with force and strength. And so comfort is to give strength and hope to, to ease the grief or trouble of.”
With that strength we are to attend to the rough obstacles of mountains and valleys that form the metaphorical landscape of our own hearts. We are often blind to our own faults and so may not always identity those obstacles we make. How do we smooth what we do not perceive?
The answer is that Holy Spirit will help us. “I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
This speaks of baptism and confirmation and the term “baptism in the Holy Spirit” is also used in the charismatic renewal to describe is a coming alive of the graces received in baptism and confirmation in a life-changing encounter.
The Holy Spirit is the voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! “Principles before personalities”
With the Spirit, this means that we must attend to the rough obstacles of mountains and valleys that form the metaphorical landscape of our own hearts to prepare for Christmas.