A highway will be there, called the holy way; ...
Isaiah's powerful description of the homecoming of the people in exile aptly fits our return home. It helps in two ways. It describes where we are, and the marvelous way God will allow us to return.
We use the "journey" language a lot during Advent. It is a fitting image because we often find ourselves "in exile," at some distance from our home with God. When we get in touch with our experience now, we discover that the place we find ourselves in is "separated." We are too often dis-connected with our family and friends. We can feel alienated from our faith tradition, either by our own sin or the sin of others. At times we are completely insulated from hearing the cry of the poor, or even those hurting around us. And, in too many parts of our life, there is a divide between us as believers and us as professionals. We feel dull - not seeing clearly, not hearing the Word clearly, being paralyzed and handicapped for any effort to move out of our situation. In our fear and anxiety, we are easy prey to nasty jackal-like temptations. Even though we might recognize this as being in a land "foreign" to where we truly belong, we have become comfortable and "at home" in our exile here.
Well, during Advent, as we grow in our longing for the Lord to come and save us from this condition we find ourselves in, we experience our Lord announcing, describing the victory he will have over our separated-ness.
The dry, barren desert we are in will bloom and become a highway for us to make our journey home. Instead of being drained and life-less, we will be refreshed. Our weary spirits will be lifted and our fears will be transformed into strength. We shall see and hear and leap like the stag. Our sorror and mourning will flee. We shall recognize the announcement that Our God has come to save us.
Each and every one of us can hear this reading as our Advent liberation announcement. Today, let us experience our hearts welcoming this promise. Let's feel the anticipation and longing. We can read today's gospel now and be filled with joy as we imagine Jesus healing us, from the inside-out - first forgiving our sins and then telling us we can get up and walk with him.
"Nothing will be impossible for God."
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