Comfort in the midst of darkness and sin

December 6, 2020 – Second Sunday of Advent

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/120620.cfm)

Homily

To look for comfort once in a while is a human necessity. To take comfort when we are experiencing stress from work allows us to relax. To take comfort when our relationship becomes suffocating allows us to gather our mind. To take comfort when we are sad, sorrowful and suffering allows us to breath, to be heard and to be embraced. For this very reason we seek the things that we know would give us some comfort like the presence of our friends and family members, the people who care and love us. Others can also take comfort even from small and simple things like eating their favorite dish, going to a fun-filled place, taking a vacation in a peaceful beach or just retreating into the recesses of their rooms and personal space.

Some forms of comfort too would sometimes develop into unhealthy habits and even addictions. In the search of experiencing comfort and joy, we could also fall into traps. We may believe that it is the comfort that we have been looking for, yet, because it is easy and can be made available then we settle for it. This is the case when we begin to foster a cycle of habit, the early stage of addiction, and later on will also become a compulsive behavior in us. This can compulsion can be in any form. This is not limited to chemical substances but also in relationships and in our attitudes to material things. Thus, those that become excessive in us can be forms of obsessions and addictions that are actually expressions of our desire to be comforted.

Such desire to be comforted brings me now into the theme on this Second Sunday of Advent. Today, we light the second candle, which is the candle of peace. Is it not that we indeed desire peace – peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace in our communities? This desire for comfort which peace will bring to us, is what we also hear in our readings today.

The first reading from the Book of Isaiah wonderfully proclaimed to us God’s response to the people who longed for peace. “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.” This passage was proclaimed to the people of God who were exiled to Babylon and were made slaves. They were in a foreign land, captives of foreign masters, removed from their homeland, subjected to suffering and misery. Indeed, they longed for comfort in midst of darkness and sin which can only come from God.

But, at last, the exile shall come to an end, for God is faithful and merciful. The sins of the people were forgiven and peace shall be theirs.

This promise of God to give comfort to the people shall be delivered by God himself and not just by any messenger. God comes to comfort the people because God’s presence means peace. That is why, Isaiah tells us too that when God comes, God will be like a Good Shepherd to us. The Lord will gather us in his arms, carry us in his bosom and lead us with care.

These images of God’s actions tell us that God also longs for us. God longs to be closer with us. God desires to be really with us. This is peace. This is the true comfort that we too are looking for.

Moreover, in order for us to be more welcoming and accepting of God’s comfort, Isaiah tells on what to do. What Isaiah proclaimed was also re-echoed in our Gospel today, through the person of John the Baptist. It says, “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

John reminds us that salvation is possible, that peace and freedom from sin is possible. Thus, comfort of peace will dawn on us when we start recognizing our sinfulness rather than the sins of others. Peace is felt when we humble ourselves before God to accept that we are in need of mercy.

However, we too might feel impatient with God because we expect that we should be comforted right away and immediately when we need it. Peter in his second letter reminds us today also, he said, “Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Therefore, as we welcome the Lord to come and comfort us with peace, let us also make ourselves ready by preparing our heart. Let us reflect today, “What are my unhealthy habits or even forms of obsessions and addictions that prevent me from welcoming God? What are my un-confessed sins, my selfish tendencies and desires that are keeping me away from my true self, from others and from God?

As the candle of peace has been lit, may this promise of God to us today, ignite for our desire to be comforted by God’s presence dwelling among us. Hinaut pa.

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