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When There Is Pain Instead of Christmas Cheer

First Reading: Isaiah 54:1-10

Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear,
Break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor,
For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife
than the children of her who has a husband,
says the LORD.
Enlarge the space for your tent,
spread out your tent cloths unsparingly;
lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes.
For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left;
your descendants shall dispossess the nations
and shall people the desolate cities.

Fear not, you shall not be put to shame;
you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced.
The shame of your youth you shall forget,
the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember.
For he who has become your husband is your Maker;
his name is the LORD of hosts;
Your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
called God of all the earth.
The LORD calls you back,
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
A wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.
In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
But with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the LORD, your redeemer.

This is for me like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah
should never again deluge the earth;
So I have sworn not to be angry with you,
or to rebuke you.
Though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be shaken,
My love shall never leave you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 30:2 AND 4, 5-6, 11-12A AND 13B

R. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
“Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Gospel: Luke 7:24-30

When the messengers of John the Baptist had left,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John.
“What did you go out to the desert to see B a reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine garments?
Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously
are found in royal palaces.
Then what did you go out to see?
A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom Scripture says:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.

I tell you,
among those born of women, no one is greater than John;
yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(All the people who listened, including the tax collectors,
who were baptized with the baptism of John,
acknowledged the righteousness of God;
but the Pharisees and scholars of the law,
who were not baptized by him,
rejected the plan of God for themselves.)

NAB

dec15

The season of Advent is well underway and the world around us is likely bubbling with Christmas cheer. However, today’s First Reading is a reminder that, for some, the Christmas season may not be as joyful as they’d like.

The Prophet Isaiah uses various forms of imagery to portray a woman in anguish—being childless or without a husband, having a shameful past, and generally feeling grieved and abandoned. How many of us have experienced that grief at one time in our lives—or perhaps even now?

When I was single, the holidays were enjoyable but there was still a pain and longing in my heart for a vocation I felt called to but saw no answer in sight. After I married, we longed for a child but another Christmas passed without the gleeful giggles of a baby. Still years later, as everyone was joyfully singing songs of Gloria at Mass, I was holding back the tears as I worried about the cancer that was residing in my husband at the time.

This Advent, those painful times are now memories tucked away in my heart but I know that there are some of you reading this experiencing pain that is very real—loneliness, grief, wounds of abuse, shame from past mistakes, marital issues, health problems, financial worries, or physical and emotional exhaustion. Like Jesus on the cross, you may be asking, “Father, why have you abandoned me?”

However, today’s First Reading assures us that although it may feel like God has turned away from us, in reality He is saying, “Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you.”

Let this Christmas be a reminder to you that your Savior has come. The Christ Child wants to reside in your heart, casting out the darkness and filling it with light and peace. Embrace Him. Let Him begin to heal your hurt.

Take some time today to pour out your troubles to God, your Father. Let Him comfort you. Or is there someone in your life that is going through a difficult time this Christmas season? Pray for them and let them know you are thinking about them. Do something kind to lift their spirits.

photo credit

Bobbi Rol is a wife, a mama of four and a blogger learning to love God in the midst of dishes, laundry and swinging light sabers. You can find out more about her here.

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