Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

(Isaiah 40:1-11; Matthew 18:12-14)

The old lady was querulous.  You could hardly wish her, "Good day," without hearing a complaint in return.  She seemed fond of provoking conflict by bringing up pet peeves like Obama-care as if you had the vote in Congress that passed the measure.  You begin to think that she and everyone else would be happier if she were dead, but then you remember the intention which Jesus expresses in today's gospel.

Jesus advises that he is especially interested in those who are having problems.  To be sure, we all have them as much as we like to assure others, "I'm doing all right."  Still, he is most concerned about the spiritually disabled – those who have lost control of their best judgment.  He wants them to feel his Father’s love so that they might reclaim a truly moral sensitivity. 

By extension, Jesus wants his disciples to welcome, not shun, those people who are embittered or problematic.  This intention is telescoped by today’s long first reading from Deutero-Isaiah.  We are to comfort God's people -- really everyone but, like Jesus, especially those who suffering physical, emotional, or spiritual pain -- by our gentleness as well as candor, by our compassion as well as firmness.