(Image of the Advent wreath is from ImageVine/courtesy of www.imagevine.com. All rights reserved.)
(Is 40:1-11; Mt 18:12-14)
The familiar opening lines of chapter 40 of Isaiah challenge us with opposing images of God: Judge and Comforter, Hidden, yet Revealing, Immortal, yet Creator of Mortality, Strong Ruler and Gentle Shepherd. For Isaiah, it is not a question of which of these characteristics describe God; rather God is all these things. What would be regarded as inconsistency in any human being we experience as perfect consistency in God.
“What is your opinion?” This is the question Jesus asks in chapter 18 of Matthew’s gospel. Does it make sense to us that the shepherd of a huge flock would leave it to seek after one, lone, lost sheep? Human logic says, “No.” Society tells us that the life of the one is not as important as the life of the many. But human ways are not the ways of God. For God, the life of every child is equally important. Once again, what would be foolish behavior for a human is perfect behavior for a loving God.
Can we accept God for who God is? Can we run to the rooftops and proclaim the love and mercy of God? Only when we acknowledge our own imperfection can we reclaim ourselves as children of God. Like a child, we will see the world and our Creator with innocence, wonder and awe. We will gently yield our sense and will to the perfect inconsistency of the Shepherd’s embrace.
There is work to be done: the coming of the Lord must be proclaimed.
There is work to be done: we must examine our lives.
There is work to be done: we must become children again.
We are invited to leave our sins behind and become the herald of God’s mercy in the world. “Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God!”
– Fr. David Kaczmarek, T.O.R.