10 December 2018
Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult,
let the wasteland rejoice and bloom,
let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil,
let it rejoice and sing for joy.
The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it,
the splendour of Carmel and Sharon;
they shall see the glory of the Lord,
the splendour of our God.
Strengthen all weary hands,
steady all trembling knees
and say to all faint hearts,
‘Courage! Do not be afraid.
‘Look, your God is coming,
vengeance is coming,
the retribution of God;
he is coming to save you.’
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy;
for water gushes in the desert,
streams in the wasteland,
the scorched earth becomes a lake,
the parched land springs of water.
The lairs where the jackals used to live
become thickets of reed and papyrus.
And through it will run a highway undefiled
which shall be called the Sacred Way;
the unclean may not travel by it,
nor fools stray along it.
No lion will be there
nor any fierce beast roam about it,
but the redeemed will walk there,
for those the Lord has ransomed shall return.
They will come to Zion shouting for joy,
everlasting joy on their faces;
joy and gladness will go with them
and sorrow and lament be ended.
Jesus was teaching one day, and among the audience there were Pharisees and doctors of the Law who had come from every village in Galilee, from Judaea and from Jerusalem. And the Power of the Lord was behind his works of healing.
Then some men appeared, carrying on a bed a paralysed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of him. But as the crowd made it impossible to find a way of getting him in, they went up on to the flat roof and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith he said, ‘My friend, your sins are forgiven you.’
The scribes and the Pharisees began to think this over. ‘Who is this man talking blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But Jesus, aware of their thoughts, made them this reply, ‘What are these thoughts you have in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven you” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralysed man – ‘I order you: get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.’
And immediately before their very eyes he got up, picked up what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
They were all astounded and praised God, and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’
They will come to Zion shouting for joy
I was taking the subway recently and noticed the faces of the commuters. I could count only two or three smiling faces and they all came from the younger children. They were all playing with each other and having a great time. Sometimes I wonder whether adults have lost a sense of joy which children possess. The readings of today remind us of the need to remain joyful in the season of Advent.
The first reading reminds us of the great joy of the Israelites who were about to return to the kingdom of Israel. In such a situation, everybody looked forward to the joy of going home. This feeling of joy is indescribable and which is missing today. The world is full of bad news and people do not have a spirit of hope. What is causing this? It is the fear of the unknown. There is no anticipation of the future and this is causing people to not look forward to what is coming before them.
The season of Advent reminds of the need to have hope. This hope is due to the coming of Jesus Christ before us. The good Lord came down to save us from our sins. A deep reflection on this would be important will allow us to discover what it means to be a hopeful people. With a hopeful anticipation of the future, we can then take every step of our life with joy and looking forward to the challenges in life. The steps we can take is to offer to the Lord our fears and concerns in prayer. Prayer is a conversation with God and in this conversation, we will be able to discover the importance of surrendering our fears and allowing the peace of the Lord to enter into our lives.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Dear Lord, give us the courage to surrender our faults and melt our hardness of heart to welcome you this Christmas.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who have shown us what it means to experience joy.