Blessed Advent to all! The readings for this Sunday are as follows: Mark 1:1-8; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85.
Human beings need to be comforted. It doesn’t matter what age you are: a crying infant or a disappointed teen, a distraught parent or a grieving widow. The world is such that we all find ourselves in need of real, genuine comfort. I say “real, genuine” because you also know as well as I do that there is a type of false comfort that’s all too commonly seen. It’s a comfort that consists only of polite smiles and nice-sounding words (“It’ll be okay. Things will work out.”) Such false comfort, while perhaps well intended, is worth very little because there is no meat to it – no content.
Sunday’s readings speak real words of comfort. They do this first by truly acknowledging the grave situation in which humanity finds itself. Israel had been at war with God (Is 40), the people of Judea were weighed down by unconfessed sins (Mk 1) and Peter says this present creation is so broken it must be dissolved in fire (2 Pet 3). But the readings give real comfort finally because they announce really good news. They promise an end to our war with God (Is 40), the arrival of Jesus, our mighty One who baptizes us with his Spirit (Mk 1) and the gift of a new and righteous creation when Christ comes again (2 Pet 3).
I hope you can tell the difference. God’s words of comfort have meat on them because His Word became Flesh and lived among us. He knows how hard life can really be. And He has given us a Savior who is strong enough to deliver on all God’s promises. That’s real comfort, and we shouldn’t settle for anything less.