Tuesday: 11 December, 2102 –– Second Week in Advent
Isaiah 40:1–11 / Matthew 18:12–14
The Quest for Comfort
I often think about how “comfort” oriented we are in our 21st Century American society. The slightest inconvenience can trigger a tirade of anger. Any true suffering can cause extended disillusionment and despair. We are conditioned to a cultural expectation of “easier and nicer.”
It is difficult, if not impossible, for people who are comfortable to find any great significance to God’s message: Give comfort to my people. The gospel has no relevance as “Good News” if those who hear it have no recognition of the bad news that engulfs them.
At some point, though, the harsh realization comes: All flesh is grass, and all their glory like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower wilts.... The “natural” response to that –– the sin-blinded, rebellious and autonomous response –– is to chase the bubbles and run toward the mirages that the world offers as substitutes for God’s love and care. This is the context in Jesus’ little story for the sheep that goes astray. An introduction to today’s Magnificat reading says: “We have an incredible capacity to maroon ourselves in life’s rocky gorges and perilous mountain ledges.”
Sometimes a person has to go astray to feel his lostness. If you’ve ever been “lost” (even temporarily) you know how uncomfortable it is. That is when the gospel becomes Good News –– to hear the comforting words that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. God seeks to save people who are lost.
I never want to become so “comfortable” that I fail to know, in the depths of my being, that I need a Savior.