In the first reading, Zephaniah invites us to the joy we experience when we realize that God has forgiven us and so there is nothing to fear. God is among us and will never abandon us. St. Paul takes that theme even deeper when he reminds us that especially when we are anxious, the Lord is near. His presence will heal our sadness and sorrow and replace our anxiety with hope.
The Gospel in a more subtle way gives us joy and hope because we are preparing for his imminent coming; it is not just a remembrance of Bethlehem, but rather a call to recognize his presence within us. As we turn back to God and are healed, we are preparing the way. We discover the good within us and put that good into practice through sharing who we are and what we have with others. Everyone has something to share. We discover that we who know the Lord are the good news to a suffering humanity.
Throughout history, the Church has lived in very difficult circumstances. Today, we are living in very difficult times once more. The challenge is to keep the eyes of our hearts on the Lord who will give us the inner strength to forgive as we have been forgiven; to be instruments of healing as we have been healed; to be signs of hope and light in a world filled with despair and darkness. We believe that the Lord has definitively entered into human history to bring us to life now and forever.
So, we rejoice because God believes in us and works through us and will be victorious!
By Fr. Joseph Jablonski, MSC