Wednesday, 2nd Week of Advent    

            The book The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of Dorothy Day tells the story of a woman deeply concerned about human rights and justice. It also describes our human condition, our loneliness and fears, our struggle for freedom and peace. Deep down Dorothy Day knew that God did not disregard her plight nor was she able to hide her ways from the Lord.

            Isaiah, in today’s first reading, tells us that God “does not faint nor grow weary.” “He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound.” “They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with the eagle’s wings…”

            Jesus, in the wonder of his Incarnation and self-emptying love (kenosis), knew from the inside the long loneliness of our human pilgrimage. He experienced hunger and thirst, tiredness and weariness, love and rejection, friendship and betrayal, great joy and sorrows, life and death. Jesus knew how burdensome work can be, how heavy the yoke of human existence, and the importance of humility and meekness. Ours is not an outsider God. In Jesus our God tasted everything but sin.

            An Advent practice – or act of mercy – that prepares us well for the Nativity of the Lord is encouragement. Because life can be filled with loneliness and hardship, everyone needs to be encouraged and cheered on to persevere in our following of Christ. To be an agent of encouragement is to be an instrument of God’s grace. Just as God cheers us on, that we might soar like an eagle, so we too are to cheer others on – particularly thosewho are going through personal struggles, emotional distress, spiritual desolation, marital problems, family crisis.

            One important way to make this Advent season more meaningful to us is to ask: Who are the people in our life that need encouragement? In what ways can we cheer them on lest they falter? May this Advent season be a moment for us to personally encounter our God who is the Lord of encouragement. So that, having experienced his grace of encouragement, we may also become agents of encouragement.

            Let us end with a prayer: God of encouragement, we stand in need of your supportive hand. When loneliness sets in, may we turn to you for assistance and reach out to others who carry heavy burdens. With you sharing our yoke, we can do great things. Amen.

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