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 youths 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.
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 prophet of the Babylonian exile (Second Isaiah) was inspired 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 treat them with 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 the image of Jesus in the gospel. In Isaiah God speaks of himself as one who never grows weary and, because of that, can help the wearied and strengthen the powerless. In the gospel Jesus speaks of himself as one who gives rest to those who work and are overburdened. As a result, he calls on all those who toil and are overburdened to come to him. The message of both readings fits so perfectly with the Year of Mercy proclaimed by pope Francis, which started on yesterday's feast.
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, to the burdened, comes to pass. Your work as members of the Vincent de Paul society is a very focused way of allowing the Lord to bring his great promise to reality. It is in and through your ministry that people experience the Lord who never grows weary himself but is always at work to bring strength to the weary. If you are to keep going at that important ministry, you need to draw strength from the Lord yourselves. The end of that first reading says, "Young men may grow tired and weary; youths may stumble." How much more is that the case with those of us who no longer quite qualify as youths. We can easily grow tired and weary, including growing tired and weary of serving others. The reading declares that "those who hope in the Lord renew their strength, they put our wings like eagles." We need to keep drawing on the Lord's strength if we are to give his strength to others. At the heart of our relationship with those you serve is our own relationship with the Lord. Advent is a good season to come before the Lord in our weakness, perhaps in our tiredness, and to ask him to fill us with his strength, so that we can be channels of his life-giving strength to others, especially to those who are overburdened.