In our first reading for the second Sunday of Advent, God from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11) says, \"Comfort, give comfort to my people.\" During Isaiah\'s time, the people were in dire need of consolation. They worked as slaves, building mostly roads for their conquerors and masters. Oppressed and away from home, some wondered if God had indeed abandoned them. The prophet Isaiah spoke words of encouragement to those people in exile. He begged them to return to the loving arms of God even in times of doubt, suffering, and persecution. He described the Lord as a shepherd: \"The shepherd feeds his flocks and in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.\"
\"Comfort, give comfort to my people\" are the words that we need to take to heart when we talk about migrants, the poor, the disadvantaged, and the disenfranchised. Often, that phone call, text message, letter or email that we get from our distressed brothers and sisters may be the first and the last one that we will ever get from them. If we will only listen with our hearts, we will be able to give comfort to those in pain. Very often, they only need someone to listen to their woes. We may not have the answer to their problems but like the prophet Isaiah, we can always assure one another of God\'s love.
In the Gospel, John the Baptist appeared in the desert announcing,\" Prepare the way of the Lord...\" (Mark 1:1-8). John the Baptist as a preacher was a success. Many people followed him to the Jordan river, acknowledged their sins and got baptized. Isaiah and John made the same announcement, \"Prepare the way of the Lord!\"
December is probably the busiest time of the year for most people and businesses. Even in Taiwan, where Christians constitute only one percent of the entire population, Christmas is a major commercial endeavor. But where is Jesus in all this?
John the Baptist told us to prepare, but he never said anything about preparing a huge shopping budget. He was calling for a conversion of our hearts and minds. His proclamation was two-fold. First, preaching \"a baptism of repentance which led to the forgiveness of sins.\" Second, the announcement of the \"coming of the mightier One who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit.\" Are we prepared to welcome Jesus into our lives? Are we prepared to be baptized by the Holy Spirit?
For migrants, what kind of preparation do we need to bridge the distance that separates us from our families? How prepared are we to offer comfort to one another? In this season of Advent, let us continue to be \"highway builders,\" preparing the way for Christ, and to be witnesses of God\'s unfailing love.
Reverend Joy Tajonera is a Kabayan guest columnist. You may contact Father Joy by sending him a text message at 0930-44-6060, emailing him at email@example.com, or writing him at Chilin Road, Lane 14, No. 3, Taipei 104.