Saturday of the First Week of Advent
Readings for the Day
In the first reading today, Isaiah delivers a promise of comfort and peace to a community that was suffering greatly. It’s a promise that many of us need to hear right now: “No more will you weep. The Lord will be gracious when you cry out.”
Isaiah’s words speak deeply to me as I reflect on challenges we are facing in my local community. Though Nashville, the city I call home, is experiencing a time of unprecedented growth, many of our clients in need are being left behind. Finding affordable housing for the 3,000 plus homeless children and their families in our city has become very difficult. Each year our agency, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, settles hundreds of refugees fleeing violence and poverty in their home country; yet there seems to be a growing public distrust of this work, and a reluctance to extend hospitality to these vulnerable families looking for safety and security. Like many large cities around our nation, racial tensions are high, inequality is growing, and the divisive election has threatened to drive a wedge in our communities. We are a people in need of healing.
I believe Isaiah offers the kind of comforting message our local communities and our nation needs to hear right now. Though we may be experiencing hardships, God promises an eschatological time of peace when those who hunger will be filled, those wounded by violence will be healed, and when God will become fully present to His people. Isaiah, then, is calling his community—and all of us—to a time of Advent waiting: waiting for God to bring about the Kingdom of justice and peace, for which we all so desperately long, especially during these times of uncertainty which many people are currently experiencing.
As Christians we are comforted by the good news of the Gospel: we know that God has kept the promises He made in the Old Testament, and is already bringing them to fulfillment in Jesus. Today’s Gospel reminds us that with the coming of Christ, this Kingdom of God is already “at hand”. Though those of us who work with Catholic Charities or in another role in the Church may feel deeply troubled by the suffering and injustice we see in our world, Jesus is with truly with us, shepherding us in our work. As people of faith, Jesus sends us out two-by-two to bring about God’s healing, to give without counting the cost, and in so doing, to be signs of hope to a hurting world. Though in Nashville, as in many other places, we face obstacles, set-backs, and resistance to our work, Christ reminds us that work for healing and peace is kingdom work, the work of a God who is faithful and keeps His promises to His people. And in doing this kingdom work, God is fully present with us. And that is a promise worth living into this Advent.
Collen Mayer is Director of Social Services for Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc. and serves on the CCUSA Parish Social Ministry Steering Committee and the Management and Administration Leadership Team.