A Time of Joyful Expectation

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“It will be said on that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9)

“And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.” Matthew 15:37 As at the time of Isaiah, the people who listened to him could only imagine what he was talking about. Nonetheless, as we see in the Gospel passage, the prophecy of Isaiah became a reality in the feeding of the multitude.

Dear friends, the message for us today is very simple: God never fails. One beautiful song goes thus: “The Steadfast Love of the Lord never ceaseth, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, new every morning, great is thy faithfulness O Lord, great is thy faithfulness.” Even our Responsorial Psalm today sings of God as a shepherd who never lets his sheep down. A shepherd who gives his sheep repose along fresh and green pastures, who guides the sheep along the right path; who never abandons his sheep even when they walk through the shadow of death. A shepherd who prepares a table for the sheep even in the presence of their enemies.

God is Faithful. He never fails. Even in the midst of all the difficulties you are facing now, God has not failed you. Faith is all about expecting the best from God. As the song goes: “God is not a man, his words will surely come to pass, he would never fail, his word will come to pass.” We have not yet seen what we are praying for, but we are firmly convinced that our waiting is not in vain. As St. Paul teaches us: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.” (Romans 8:28). Just as Advent is a time of waiting, our very lives on earth is an advent of some sort in that as Jesus would say, we must be like men waiting for their Master to return from the wedding feast. (Luke 12:36). Each time you are expecting something great and beautiful to happen, you are in Advent. The beauty of waiting is keeping your expectations constant.  Bible Study: Isaiah 25:6-10, Psalm 23:1-6 and Matthew 15:29-37)

Put Your Trust in God: He Never Fails

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“Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusts in thee. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3-4).

As we noted yesterday, advent is a time of expectation. Without trust, there can be no expectation. Advent is a time to deepen our trust in God; a time to remind ourselves that the God we serve is a promise keeper; a miracle worker, in short, as Isaiah says to us today, God is an Everlasting Rock. Isaiah wasn’t just praising God, he was actually recommending to us the only available cure for fear, worry, stress and anxiety. Isaiah says anyone whose mind is stayed on God will be kept in perfect peace. The key to perfect peace of mind is to trust God whole heartedly in the various advents of our lives.

This means that if you are not at peace right now, it is either because you have not yet surrendered your affairs to God (your mind is not staying on God) or you do not trust in God’s ability to solve the problem. To put your mind on God is to take your mind away from the perceived problem; the more you think of your problem, the bigger they become in your eyes, but the more you think of the greatness and power of God, your problems become insignificant and your mind becomes at peace.

If we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the fact that God kept His Word. The fact that God took our human nature and became flesh shows us the extent to which God is willing to go to solve our problems. The sad reality is that instead of placing all our trust in God, we somehow prefer to trust human beings; friends, lovers or even things such as our wealth, our machines and so on. Bear this in mind; people will always disappoint you not necessarily because they want to disappoint you, but because they are simply what they are – human beings not God; they may have the good intentions but they just don’t have the capacity to do things for you which only God can do. Money fails, machines break down, security gadgets fail, pets fail. Only God has your back.

A lot of us claim to trust God but our actions betray this trust. Actions speak louder than words. If we trust God, our actions will show it. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus told us: “It is not those who say ‘Lord, Lord’ who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.” If we trust God, we would obey Him; by so doing, we prove that we have confidence in gaining all the good things that God has promised us.

Coincidentally, while Isaiah uses the word “rock” in describing the unshakable nature of God, Jesus used the word “rock” to illustrate how unshakable we become when we obey His word. There is a correlation between trusting in God and peace of mind as well as obedience to the will of God. “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock.” To build on rock is to withstand the trials and difficulties of life; it is to remain unshaken no matter how bad things appear. To build on rock is to live above fear. Hence the Psalmist says: “In God alone be at rest my soul for my hope is in him.” (Psalm 62:1&5).

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me to trust in you and in nothing else. Amen.

 Bible Study: Isaiah 26:1-6, Psalm 118:1-27 and Matthew 7:24-27).

Fr. Abu.

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