Tuesday of the Second Week


IS 40: 1-11

MT 18: 12-14


Have you ever heard a line of a Christmas Carol go through your mind, just a line, and you couldn’t remember immediately what carol it was from? This year one of those occurrences is, ‘A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.’

It’s the word ‘weary’ that haunts my attention. It reminds me of the good bishop’s song in Les Miserables who, reaching out to Jean Valjean on the run, sings ‘Come in sir for you are weary, and the night is cold out there....’ it’s the last line of that stanza that arrested my attention in the same way, ‘There’s a bed to rest till morning, rest from pain rest from wrong.’ The good bishop in that story suffered for prisoner 24601, to take in his own body the blows which that escaping ‘prisoner’ (parolee) deserved in order that real forgiveness and true freedom might be realized. This a strange way to comfort the weary, this suffering, this putting oneself in the weak position for the sake of the renegade, who hasn’t yet turned so to speak.  To whom is this revealed as the strong arm of the Lord? Who will hear this report and well up inside with hope and say interiorly to one’s own soul, ‘that's God, He has done that for my weary soul’? 

These thoughts lead me to the first of the Advent reading for today, Isaiah’s message of comfort, the voice crying in the wilderness, ‘prepare the way of the LORD!’ There the might of the LORD is proclaimed to Jerusalem, ‘Here is your God! Here comes with power the LORD GOD, who rules by his strong arm....Who has the strength to fill in all the valleys and make straight all the roads in one’s own heart, such as is fitting for the arrival of the King of the universe?

We hardly know the weariness we’ve been laboring underneath. Sure we are insanely busy, stressed, and tired. We know and are burdened by exterior injustices big and small. But to rest from our own ‘wrong’? We hardly perceive the rest our own soul really needs. But our Lord knows. He alone has the strength to carry the load of the whole world’s great and enormous weariness, and his alone is the heart big enough to want to carry it through all of the suffering that entailed. To marvel at it is to begin to prepare Him room, and to feel our obligation to be as forgiving is the beginning of the Peace our Lord came to bring us.

Greg Severn, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Physics and Biophysics