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Gift of Comfort

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

A voice says, “Cry out!”
I answer, “What shall I cry out?”
“All flesh is grass,
and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it.
So then, the people is the grass.
Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
the word of our God stands forever.”

Go up onto a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96:1-2, 3 AND 10AC, 11-12, 13

R. (see Isaiah 40:10ab) The Lord our God comes with power.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name;
announce his salvation, day after day.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
They shall exult before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.

Gospel: Matthew 18:12-14

Jesus said to his disciples:
“What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”

NAB

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I moved to a brand new city for graduate school and my first year of teaching. Being alone with an endless spiral of tasks left me feeling incredibly overwhelmed. I also began to feel a little stuck in my spiritual life, becoming embarrassed that my feeble attempts at prayer were either flooded with distractions or lost to sleep.

I remember driving back to my little apartment after Christmas break and relating to Jesus that something needed to change in order for me to survive the rest of the year. Jesus, I need you. Jesus, I need you to help me.

In the silence of that dark night, a deep peace flooded my heart and I heard His gentle words, “You are not alone. I am here with you. I will help you. I delight in you. I delight in the way you love my little ones.” His tender words brought such comfort. My heart relaxed into receiving His love.

When the poor little sheep in today’s Gospel found herself all alone, she received the compassion of the Good Shepherd.  Can you relate? Have you let Him find you, feeling His merciful gaze on your heart? Have you let Him rejoice over you?

Jesus’ gift of comfort to me that night continued the next morning when I read a new email about the start of a Catholic young adults group near me. I was not very familiar with Adoration, but I joined them for a Holy Hour each week. Going to Adoration during the week continued my participation in Sunday’s liturgy and deepened my love for the Blessed Sacrament. Here, I received the comfort of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. Here, I learned how to bring my burdens to Him and find rest. Here, I began to trust Him even more.

In this beautiful season of Advent, let us create a little more time for prayer so that our hearts will be prepared to adore the Good Shepherd who seeks, finds, comforts, and delights in us.

Rose Coleman is a contemplative in action who delights in all things beautiful. Her adventurous heart has traveled many places—from circumnavigating the globe on a ship during college to some years in the convent as a religious sister. Exuberant from her childhood, she is an elementary school teacher who learns so much from her students. You can find out more about her here.

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