For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel! I will help you, says the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.Now, I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. Then you shall rejoice in the Lord; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.
When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, so that all may see and know, all may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.
Today’s first reading from Isaiah resonates with us in this Advent season. Within our darkest nights, parched with thirst, we wait for God to take away our suffering and our longing. St. John of the Cross, whose feast is today (and who received his formal education from the Jesuits), experienced many terrible, dark nights where he felt distant from God. Like him, may we see beyond our pain and hurt that can blind us to the lavish gifts, abundant blessings, and infinite surprises God bestows on us.
God will not forsake us. Life-giving water is everywhere; lush, verdant plantings already in bloom. If only we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Do we?
Our souls are rising near to you—this earth a bow that shot us; now lift me into your arms, dear God, like something precious that you dropped.
—St. John of the Cross
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