“I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13
What does exile and courage have to do with preparing our hearts in faith during this second week of Advent?
In today’s readings from the gospel of Matthew, chapter 11 and from Isaiah 41, I think two themes are revealed – courage and exile.
In Isaiah, we hear about God’s plan as He rescues His people from exile. He hears their cries. And reveals it in a way that only He could. “I, the Lord, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the broad valleys; I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water. I will plant in the desert the cedar, acacia, myrtle, and olive; I will set in the wasteland the cypress, together with the plane tree and the pine.” Isaiah 41:17-19
Now, does this mean that the physical landscape began to change before their very eyes? May be not. Perhaps it was a deeper change of landscape, the landscape of their hearts as He delivers them out of exile.
During the Advent season, we too are called to this change of landscape in our hearts, called to prepare our hearts through repentance of the sin that drives us into exile, that separates us from God. It’s the cleansing of our hearts that prepares us for this greater relationship through the love God is longing for us to have with Him.
Sometimes this takes courage. In the gospel reading today from Matthew, we are reminded of the courage of proclaiming the Good News as John the Baptist did as he heralded the coming of Christ. He is presented to us as a good example to model as we prepare our hearts for Christ to enter, freeing us from our exile into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Will you be courageous and allow the landscape of your heart be changed as He frees you from exile of the sinful wasteland and temptations of this world we conform to?
Our invitation this week remains the same, preparing our hearts, strengthening our faith and proclaiming the news of Christ’s coming this Christmas to free us from exile.
Blessings and happiest Advent journey to each of you.