1st Saturday of Advent
Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26; Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5A, 6-8
“On the day the LORD binds up the wounds of his people, he will heal the bruises left by his blows” (Is. 30:8). The Lord of Hosts is with His people and the people of God would soon know the joy of coming home. If they would only respond to His voice, He would stretch out His hand and wipe away every tear from their eyes. His desire is to satisfy the hunger, not only of their bodies but also of their souls. We await the coming of the Healer of the World in the Flesh. When the Lord appears to us in all His majesty, He will strengthen our failing limbs and enlighten our dimmed eyes. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit He will set our feet on the right path and he will prevent us from going astray. This is the light of the gospel. This is the light that heals the broken-hearted.
As Jesus made His way through the villages, his heart was moved with pity for the poor, the sick and the marginalized. As a proof that the Kingdom had come, Jesus responded to the weeping, He showed compassion for the hardships of life and He stretched out a hand to those overwhelmed with life’s struggles. He not only cured the physical ills, but He also spoke to the hearts that were weary, and the minds that were distressed and anxious. The Beloved Son had compassion on the people, calling each one by name. He saw them like sheep that were scattered for lack of a shepherd and perishing for lack of knowledge and guidance. Following in His footsteps, we should have compassion on all people, even though many of them do not know their right hand from their left.
Salvation is a gift from God. The Master of the Universe knew that there are multitudes who would stand in need of spiritual instruction. The Son of the Most High knew that these troubled people formed the plentiful harvest that He was entrusting to His disciples. Jesus calls all who are willing to labor in the vineyard of the Kingdom. If we are willing to respond to the call, we must extend mercy to others and forgive others, just as we have received it. Extending mercy to another despite his or her faults is what it means to labor in the vineyard.
Like the disciples before us, we are called to proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are to be beacons that guide others to the safe harbor on the other shore. We are to be ministers of hope to those in despair. We are to be agents of healing for those who are afflicted in body or soul. We are to speak words of mercy to people who are trapped in sin. As servants of the Lord, we are to be ambassadors of love and compassion. I will close with a few words of Fr. Pedro Arrupe.
“Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” (Fr. Pedro Arrupe).