Tuesday 6 December 2022 2nd week of Advent
‘Console my people, console them’ says your God. ‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for, that she has received from the hand of the Lord double punishment for all her crimes.’ A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low. Let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ A voice commands, ‘Cry!’ and I answered, ‘What shall I cry?’” – ‘All flesh is grass and its beauty like the wild flower’s. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on them. (The grass is without doubt the people.) The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God remains forever.’ Go up on a high mountain, joyful messenger to Zion. Shout with a loud voice, joyful messenger to Jerusalem. Shout without fear, say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God.’ Here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him. The prize of his victory is with him, his trophies all go before him. He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.
Psalm 95 Here is our God coming with power.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’
The theme of exile has a lot of relevance for us today. There is the multitude of migrants seeking refuge beyond their own land in exile from all that is familiar and secure. But many who retain what is familiar and secure live in exile from themselves, like refugees looking for someone to bring them comfort. Perhaps we could say, that in their distress they are like the lost sheep of the Gospel, having become disconnected from what is safe, what is good, what is genuine. In all of us there is the hidden depth from which we at times lose sight of. And when it is found once again, we discover that God was there all along and so we “get found again” and rejoice that we have come home. These are such life transforming experiences.
Perhaps this is the great exile of our time, and we fail to recognise it. Perhaps the failure of societies to care for refugees is a result of avoiding our own interior exile. The Gospel is indeed good news. The Good Shepherd is the one who seeks out the lost. God seeks out what is lost in us and reconnects us again to ourselves to others, society, and of course the Sacred. Ours is the joy of being found. Ours is the consolation of being comforted. We can then reply with the prophet: “What shall I cry out?” “To whom shall I speak?”
God in Jesus is concerned about the lost one. The Lord values each one of us; he calls each one of us by name; none of us is worthless in his sight. He cares equally for each one of us. May we also learn to value every person as much as he values us.