Reflection by Bishop Enrique Díaz: Comfort, comfort my people

Second Sunday of Advent


Mgr Enrique Díaz Díaz shares with the readers of Exaudi his reflection on the Gospel for this Sunday 10 December 2023, entitled: “Comfort, comfort my people”.


Isaiah 40, 1-5. 9-11: “Comfort, comfort my people”

Psalm 84: “Show us your mercy, O Lord, and give us the Saviour”

II Peter: “We look for a new heaven and a new earth”

St. Mark 1, 1-8: “Make straight the paths of the Lord”

It is not difficult to find serious situations of anguish, distress, and poverty in our homeland. Pain goes hand in hand with hunger, and injustice and deceit go hand in hand with scarcity. Throughout our Mexican territory, so hard hit in these times by poverty and violence, serious situations are multiplying that make us cry out to heaven, looking for true consolation. What words can we say to a mother who is torn and cries out for the death of her innocent child? How can we console someone who cries for her adolescent, who has become addicted to drugs and co-opted by criminal gangs? Today, the words of the prophet Isaiah can be heard very close to us: “Comfort, comfort my people”. Not so different are the situations of the people of Israel who find themselves in exile and who, with anguish, see how families are being destroyed, how customs are being corrupted, how hope is being diluted. And to them the Lord intends, with the word of Isaiah, to offer an injection of faith and to rekindle the flame of hope that was already being extinguished. On this second Sunday of Advent these same words resound like a ray of hope for all those who find themselves in darkness, for those who have lost faith and for those who feel abandoned: “Comfort, comfort my people”.

Attention, much attention because this Sunday is for us and brings good news. Let us make no mistake, let us not think that the words of the prophet offer artificial consolations, nor let us expect easy and simplistic solutions. The messenger of Good News who ascends the mountain does not pretend to change the superficial but offers a real inner change by recognising that the Lord is present in our midst: “Lift your voice and proclaim: ‘Here is your God'”. It is not miracles or bought happiness, what the Lord promises through his prophet is the presence of God in the midst of his suffering people.

Yes, God is with that little girl that the brutality of alcohol and drugs keeps in a vegetative state; God looks into the misery of our homes; God walks with the migrant who, cornered by needs, ventures in search of better living conditions; God becomes sacrifice and blood in the countless victims of violence and ambition that daily fall in our fields and cities. God makes himself present in all those absurd situations of disregard for the dignity of the person and shares with the little ones their pain. And then pain, hunger and injustice have another meaning, because they are in the hands of the Lord, who does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to be saved. No, it is not conformism or postponing solutions by hiding behind providentialism to excuse ourselves from our commitments. On the contrary, it is to assume these situations as unwanted by God, but which call for answers and serious commitments. That is why Isaiah, while proclaiming hope, demands: “Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness”. It would seem absurd to make paths and roads in the desert, but it is the only way to change situations: where there seems to be no hope, we have to give God his place and space, we have to make a way for him and let him act according to his designs. It requires a real change, an inner conversion, to make a breakthrough for the Lord who is coming.

St. Peter, in his letter, also encourages us to that dynamic and active hope of those who know they are in God’s hands, and awakens new illusions in those who feel lost: “We trust in the promise of the Lord and hope for a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dweller righteousness”. It is not just any promise, nor is it a superficial preparation, but a real change that will lead to the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. It will not be based on comfort and indifference, it will not be based on apathy towards the helpless brother, nor on closing the curtains so as not to contemplate misfortunes; it is based on the construction of a space where justice dwells. There will be no true happiness as long as our consolations pass through injustice; we will not find fraternity as long as lies reign; and we will not have peace in our hearts as long as we fill them with selfishness. And St. Peter continues: “Therefore, dear brethren, with this hope, make every effort that the Lord may find you at peace with him, without blemish or reproach”. No ambiguity is allowed, no other solutions can be found, God’s presence is conditional on true peace.

St. Mark also puts his grain of sand, or his tons of optimism, by announcing his proposal at the beginning of his writing: “This is the beginning of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”. The great Good News, the great beginning of all news, is Jesus Christ, who makes himself present in our midst. There is no greater or more wonderful news. Only He, who takes on our pains and miseries, can give meaning to a life full of absurdities and contradictions. He alone is capable of transforming our meaningless lives into fulfilled lives. But equally, St. Mark, in presenting us with the great Gift of the Father, demands of us, with the same words of Isaiah, to prepare the way. So let’s get to work: let’s begin to open the way, let’s break those huge rocks of selfishness that block our encounters; let’s fill with affection and commitment those huge holes left by our omissions and indifference; let’s straighten our sights and head for the goal of fraternity and understanding; let’s remove the thorns that are hurting our brothers… Let’s open the way for the Lord! And the way of the Lord passes through the concrete face of the suffering brother.

The Second Sunday of Advent invites us to become heralds of Good News, but in the style of Isaiah and John the Baptist. Let us listen to the words of consolation, but also to the demands of true conversion. It is true that these days the atmosphere is sweet and delicate, but the problems are not solved. Jesus, in order to reach us, asks that our proclamation be backed by serious commitment, great hope and unshakable faith. Come, Lord, Jesus!

Father God, whose ears are attentive to our sorrows and our anxieties, comfort your people as they prepare for the coming of your Son, renewing their hope and strengthening their faith. Amen.