Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” . . .
Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
We’ve spent a lot of this Advent month talking about the Light of the World, and it has been a blessing and a Christmas joy, yet which one of us has passed through this season without any personal grief or without being deeply touched at the sorrows of others near to us?
Today’s reading speaks of comfort, and we are asking today that the Shepherding of God may revive the souls of those we know, troubled and torn at Christmastime.
As The Day advances, presents under the tree, cookies in the jar, carols in the air, there are so many around us, bereft of comfort and out of touch with God, our Shepherd, ourselves among them when we get too busy, too stressed, too anxious, too overstimulated with all we think Christmas ought to be. And not, of course, that such things are restricted to the Advent season! Most of us can do that all year long! We pause today to remember those who are stressed, who are anxious, some almost beyond endurance, some sick, some in prison, some poor, some forgotten. Life is hard and tribulations are promised. We lift them up to You, beloved Lord, the souls of those in need of a good, an excellent, Shepherd today. We lift to You our own souls, whether peaceful or agitated.
Christmas is hardly to blame, for at this time of the year there is a special outreach, a particular desire to seek and to find, to help and to bless, and we want to remember, to care, to take time; we want to pray, to invite, and yes, to comfort. So today, we pause.
There are so many for whom Christmas is just another week, perhaps another difficulty through which to survive. With all the business and activity of Christmas, we remember them as You remember us, and we ask that we might be given to keep our hearts light, in this season and always. All of us, always in your care, always watched over, always protected, shepherded, though storms do rage.
If we cannot speak tenderly to them in person, we speak tenderly of them to You, Lord God, Almighty King. Ours are the voices crying out, and we do cry out in prayer over them and in praise to the Lord, the Lover of their souls, “Behold your God! He comes with might, and He will feed you like a shepherd, and with His arm He will gather you and gently lead the nursing ewes!” That is my prayer for you, too, dear reader, and for all of us as my candles are lighted today.
Oh, Merry Christmas, world! In the midst of all affliction, all confusion, all pain, all hard service, even oppression, He will lead us out, He will gently lead us, and where we are most vulnerable, He makes every special provision that we and our young will flourish in His care.
M. Disdero, by permission, Wikipedia
Shepherds at Midnight Mass