Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
The Word of God opens today with a strong promise of deliverance . In the familiar words of the Prophet Isaiah .The Lord says: “Console my people, console them, says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service in ended that her sin is atoned for…”
This is the beginning of the prophecy of Deutero-Isaiah, a passage which ranks among the greatest examples of Hebrew poetic literature. It was written by a disciple of the great Isaiah of Jerusalem in the final period of the Babylonian exile prior to their return. It contains the urgent cry of a people who felt themselves trapped and stranded in the desert. The prophet promises them that they will be set free, that they will return to their own land.
The reading is in the form of a dialogue – God and the prophet together with two other voices. The Lord speaks tenderly to his people that they have now atoned for their sins. The good news is that the Lord is coming. The Lord travels on the road with his people as in the first exodus from Egypt. His manifest holiness is evident and his glory will have to be acknowledged by all humankind. We are given a lovely picture of the Lord bringing with him the gift of salvation, and this develops into the familiar gospel image of the shepherd carrying his sheep .God`s people had to wait in exile until the time of their liberation arrived.
As we turn to the second reading today St. Peter would seem to be pondering on this fact. “The Lord is not being slow to carry out his promises.”
We must contrast God’s eternity with the brief span of mortal life. It is not slowness that is involved but the Lord`s way of giving people the opportunity to repent. We find in this letter of Peter an emphasis on the future judgement – the Day of the Lord.
We see how the scared writer urges on the people genuine repentance and the cultivation of a keen desire for the coming of the Saviour.
What conclusion do I draw from what we heard? We are God’s people and we are always in need of salvation. The religious needs of people are very much the name whether it’s a question of 3000 years ago, 1000 years or just this week. During the course of these weeks we need to listen to the consoling and healing promise of God’s word. Every time we feel stress or worry, every time a relationship is strained or broken, whenever we are ill or bereaved, then like God’s people we find ourselves in the desert. And the desert is not a nice place to be – we want out . But we must realise our need for God, we must feel our emptiness before we can call upon him. Just being alive means being threatened by uncertainty. That integral to the human condition. We are always worried about something, about our relatives, about how the children are getting on at school or how they will develop at a later stage. We perhaps are concerned about where our politicians are leading our country.
It is the task of the Church to present us with the vital, life giving message of Jesus each Sunday.
Listen again to the proclamation of the Gospel: “The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Straight between the eyes. Mark is in no doubt about the meaning of the scriptures and in particular of the prophecy of Isaiah. It is the first thing he mentions. For Him and for the early church the recollection of the preaching of John the Baptist coincided with the intervention of God fulfilling this prophecy.
We need to adopt an attitude of readiness to prepare for the coming of the Saviour. Perhaps too we need to listen to the booming voice of John the Baptist calling us to repent. The degree of confusion and greed among nations shows no sign of abating. It is inevitable that we sometimes feel lost and uncertain. We need St. Peter’s reminder today to be patient, to wait for the Lord. God’s initiative is certain: that is where the joyful proclamation of the coming of Jesus applies. We need to believe it. Then we can go on our way truly consoled by the conviction that the Lord will indeed come into our lives to fill the areas that we open to Him.