From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
This week our first reading from Isaiah comes from the ‘Book of Consolation’ and tells the story of God’s people who have been taken into captivity, their temple has been destroyed and everything that was important to them seemed to have been taken away. Into this darkness, this sadness and despair comes the voice of the prophet with a message of comfort and hope. “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God!” You see, Advent is a season of hope! More broadly, Advent points to the hope itself in the birth of a little baby boy born into a world that has fallen into sin and despair and lost its way starting with the sin of Adam. God delivers not just a message of hope, but HOPE itself! This is the irony of hope. It most often is born out of despair and suffering. When all else is lost; when no answers can be found; hope remains as our salvation and the answer to the aspiration to happiness which God places in each of us. Hope is the response to our Faith, trust in the Divine Providence and Plan of God, and it is the Promise of our Lord Jesus, who comes to a world wrapped in darkness, as a tiny baby to take on our suffering and pain that we might be delivered to His care for all eternity. As we suffer today through the tragedies which afflict us, the moral decay which envelops us, and the self-indulgences and pride which blind us, God calls us to the humility of those Israelites to which the prophet spoke in the first reading. They did not know how hope would be delivered to them, but they knew and trusted that it would. We do not understand or know the answers for today, but we are reminded each year during Advent – and in a particular way this Advent – that God has our backs, that He will provide and care for us! We must be patient and persevere. For our time is not God’s time. A thousand years for us is but the blink of an eye for God. St. Teresa of Avila said “Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain.” Know with certainty that our answers and our hope are in God, for He is in control.
We must be patient, but we must also be ready. Isaiah tells us “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.” When a king was coming home in victory his army would fill in the valleys and flatten the hills that a straight path would be followed home. These words of Isaiah not only were instruction for that time, but foretold the message and mission of John the Baptist. Isaiah beckons us to trust and hope in a future God is preparing for us. He and John remind us though that we have sinned, and we need to change course. God has a destiny for us: to release us from whatever holds us in bondage now. God came in the Person of His Son when the Word became flesh. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. He still comes today. The Lord invites us to receive Him and His gift of salvation. God invites us to accept His Son into our lives, to be His disciples in the world today.
As Vincentians, we so often face difficult decisions – choices where we do not know what is best. As cases increase and become increasingly complex, we are challenged to help all those who are suffering. Now more than ever, we need to turn to God the Spirit and humbly seek His counsel and wisdom in prayer. We need to ask forgiveness and mercy for those who we simply are not able to help. We need to seek patience and trust that God will ultimately deliver each of us – both ourselves and those we minister to – from the pain and suffering we confront. We need to embrace the joy and hope of a little baby boy who embraces each of us in His loving arms, placing our trust in Him! Do I trust God? Do I embrace His hope and share it widely? Will I accept where He leads me and those I walk with?
Father, give me comfort and give me hope! I come to you in prayer humbly asking for patience, for acceptance and for courage to remain faithful to you in all that I do. Help me to trust in your Plan! Help me to trust in your mercy! Help me to trust in your love! Let my faith be strong that even when I do not understand, I accept, knowing with certainty that you will care for each of us. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen.