To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God." Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even young men will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord,
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings. (R./)
It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion. (R./)
The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us, according to our sins;
nor repay us according to our faults. (R./)
Jesus said to his disciples, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
The great anonymous prophet of the Babylonian exile (Second Isaiah), was summoned by God to comfort and strengthen the people, whose memories were haunted by the destruction of their holy city, Jerusalem. Their family bonds as well as their familiar ways of life had been shattered. The prophet imagined them saying: "My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God." As we read yesterday, God summoned Isaiah to comfort these desolate people and to announce their return to their own land along the way of the Lord. In response to God's inspiration, he composed the melodious, richly theological poems in chapters 40-55. As he comforted the people, he stirred their hopes.
Whenever we show trust in people, we strengthen them and so make their burden light. If we sense that someone has great hopes in us -- not just in what we can do for them but rather in us -- we are complimented and buoyed up, almost enabled to soar with eagle's wings!
When we truly trust other people and are bonded with them in love, it adds zest to life and lessens the danger of monotony. Then we who are weary will be refreshed. To take this burden upon ourselves in imitation of Jesus, actually refreshes us. It is always a transforming experience to undertake a great work with someone who is gentle and humble of heart. Then his word comes true for us, "My yoke is easy and my burden light."
There is a close correspondence between the image of God in the first reading and that of Jesus in the gospel. In Isaiah God is the one who never grows weary and can always help the wearied and strengthen the weak. In turn, Jesus can claim to give rest to those who are weary and overburdened. So he calls all those whose lives are hard to come to him. The message of both readings fits so perfectly with the emphasis on mercy so dear to our pope Francis.
We are the members of the Lord's body in the world today. It is through us that the Lord's promise to the tired and weary, to the powerless and the burdened, is made real. Our Christian calling is to work with Jesus to bring his great promise to reality. Through our care and compassion others can experience the Lord who is always there to bring strength to the weary. To help us keep going in the ministry of mercy, we need to draw strength from the Christ himself. Isaiah notes how even "young men may grow tired and weary; youths may stumble." We too can easily grow weary of doing good in our efforts to serve others. But we take heart from the promise that "those who hope in the Lord renew their strength." We need to draw on the Lord's strength, to be able to continue serving our neighbours. It is our own relationship with the Lord that prompts us to be generous in our service. Advent is a good season to come to the Lord in our weakness and ask him to renew his active love in us, so that we can be channels of grace and care to others, especially to those who are overburdened.