"Comfort, give comfort to My people, says your God. Speak tenderly." —Isaiah 40:1-2
The Lord promises to comfort and speak tenderly to us. In the second reading, the Church proclaims in the name of the Lord that "the heavens will vanish with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire" (2 Pt 3:10). How comforting! In the Gospel reading, we meet John the Baptizer, one of the least comforting characters in the Bible and in history (see Mk 1:2ff). The Lord's ways are not our ways, and His idea of comfort is not our idea of comfort (see Is 55:8).
The Lord does not want to give us the superficial comfort of temporary relief or a bit of encouragement. Rather, the Lord promises to baptize us in the Holy Spirit (Mk 1:8), the Paraclete, the Comforter (see Jn 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; etc.). This divine Comforter will free us from generations of slavery, sin, guilt, and punishment (Is 40:2). Comfort will begin with the Holy Spirit convicting the world and us of sin, justice, and condemnation (Jn 16:8). Then we must let the Spirit lead us from conviction to repentance, confession, and forgiveness. After this, we will personally experience that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17). In the comfort of the Spirit, we will truly enter into the freedom of the Great Jubilee. In the new millennium, we will displace the culture of death with a civilization of love and life. Come, Holy Spirit of Christmas and comfort!
Prayer: Father, comfort me Your way.
Promise: "Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord God, Who rules by His strong arm." —Is 40:9-10
Praise: Jesus came forth from the tomb; "Truth shall spring out of the earth" (Ps 85:12). Praise the risen Jesus, "the Way, and the Truth, and the Life" (Jn 14:6).
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, July 21, 1999
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 29, 1999