Commentary on the Gospel of
“Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!” Isaiah 35:4
I have found it harder to concentrate these days and my prayer is particularly unfocused. Too busy, too rushed, too preoccupied to concentrate. I get discouraged and wonder if I will ever deeply connect with God. My eyes need to be opened and my tongue freed from my own barriers to prayer. How do any of us get to that place when our own world is chaotic and so many of us are experiencing deep challenges in our lives?
Today’s reading from Isaiah offers a release. It was written as an encouragement for the beleaguered people of Judah, whose land and freedom had been taken away. But in this vital early part of Advent, it offers each one of us hope and joy.
Today we have a picture of people who are frightened, powerless and unable to walk, hear, see or speak. Where do we turn from here? Yet Isaiah tells us we will be healed from our challenges and offered a direct path to take us to God. This highway promised will be safe from robbers and wild beasts.
Not only that, but we are given a vision of a parched desert that suddenly springs into bloom with abundant flowers and springs of water. And our Psalm response for today is a powerful line from the same Psalm, “Our God will come to save us!”
Luke’s gospel gives us encouragement to trust in Jesus. While Jesus was speaking to a crowded house filled with Pharisees and teachers, some men came with a stretcher carrying their paralyzed friend for healing. They were unable to push through the crowd standing inside and outside the house, so they awkwardly carried their friend on his stretcher up to the roof. There, they pushed aside some tiles and lowered the stretcher right into the middle of the room. It must have created quite a scene in the middle of the teaching, but the friends believed in the power of Jesus to heal. It was to those friends on the roof that Jesus addressed his words, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.”
In astonishment, the Pharisees muttered loudly about Jesus forgiving sins but Jesus stopped them asking, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” Then he healed the man in front of all of them.
It is that kind of trust and faith that we long for and today we can beg Jesus to touch our hearts and distracted minds to heal us and save us.
Loving God, let these readings seep into my heart that I might beg you to water the desert in my soul and find my way to the safe road you have created for me. Help me to focus my love and attention on Jesus enough that I am not distracted by crowds or criticism as I beg for healing.