Isaiah 41:13-20 is a reminder to God’s people that despite the sinful things they had done, God would not forsake or abandon them. The people had been brought down as they chose to abandon God and ignore His truths to follow their own path.
Consequently, decades earlier they had been forced to march through the difficult terrain on their way to their place of exile, Babylon. Now, after many years in exile, the time had come for God to lead them home. This time, rather than traveling rough terrain, God promises to lead them back along a lush and fertile road.
Do we believe that God can bring new life to areas of our own lives and our world that seemed dead for years? Or have we lost hope?
Do we believe God can heal broken relationships or guilt over something done in the past? Do we believe God can lead us on the road to freedom from sinful habits? Do we believe God can heal Washington D.C.?
Do we dare to believe in such a seemingly impossible feat?
“Driven out of paradise by you and exiled in a distant land, by myself I cannot return unless you come to meet me in my wandering. My return is based on hope in your mercy during all of my earthly life. My only hope, the only source of confidence, the only solid promise is your mercy”Saint Augustine (Discourses on the Psalms 24, 5)
Time and time again in our readings throughout this Advent season, God promises life where there was once only barrenness or death. He promises healing where there are wounds.
Do we believe this applies to today?
Saint Rita dared to believe when everything seemed hopeless in her life, her family, and her community. She dared to believe when her own prayers seemed they would never be answered. She believed and dared to trust in the power of God to heal the wounds of her family caused by division and conflict and the wounds of her heart in the midst of her grief.
God wants to lead us back to Him this Advent season, and he wants the road back to Him to be “lush” with hope and renewal as we use the resources given to us this season to once again prepare to receive the gift of Christmas that is ours: the gift of hope we have that Christ has come and Christ will come again.
Do we see how the Lord is preparing the way for us to return to greet Him in the manger this Christmas?
The road is “lush” with His promises, the community of faith we share, the inspirational literature that is readily available this time of year, the retreats many of us take, the Sacraments, and most especially the Eucharist. The Eucharist paves the way for us to return to God time and time again.
As we receive the Eucharist, may we continue to ask God for the grace to turn our hearts back to Him.
Saint Rita, pray for us!