Console My People
“Console my people, console them.” – Isaiah 40:1
On the second Sunday of Advent, as daylight began to break here in Ireland, the dawn revealed that a thick coating of frost had covered everything during the night. It was as if a layer of crystal had been placed over each individual blade of grass, every fall leaf, and even the petals of the last remaining roses – causing it all to literally sparkle. I had never seen anything quite like it. It was beautiful, holding a different beauty than snow, though still bearing a similar whiteness and shimmer.
Thankfully, the paths through the grounds of our convent were not icy, allowing for a walk amidst the breathtaking blanket of countless tiny icicles. I couldn’t help ponder the way our Lord had provided the added beauty during the cold of the night and the added fact that He would think to make even the freezing cold glitter in the sun. There was something so consoling about the beauty. Nature was, in a sense, experiencing a time of dormition, and yet it was radiantly sparkling!
The image of our frosted garden has remained in my mind as the days of Advent continue. It has made me ponder our Lord’s love for bringing beauty into the world. He knows deeply the hurt and suffering our world carries. He knows the immense good we are capable of and the evil we can inflict as well. And yet, He provides beauty. He makes Himself known through beauty. He consoles us through all that is beautiful. These thoughts prompted the words of an Advent hymn to come to mind:
Comfort, comfort, O my people,
Speak of peace, now says our God;
Comfort those who sit in darkness
Mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load.
Speak unto Jerusalem
Of the peace that waits for them;
Tell of all the sins I cover,
And that warfare now is over.
It is His desire to comfort us which has struck me. It is a desire which is so often spoken of throughout this holy season. I remember learning that the Latin word for comfort, confortare, comes from the word for strength, its literal meaning being, “to make strong.” This is sincerely what I encountered that morning. It was the Lord who through beauty showed His nearness. This is how He comforts: He shows that He is with us. It is His presence which gives strength and renews. “I will renew their youth like an eagle”, said the Lord to the prophet Isaiah.
The incredible thing is that unlike the frost that morning, the Lord does not simply gloss over our struggles to comfort us, He enters into them. He desired to experience each one of them. There is such an amazing tenderness in this, for He came as a tiny infant, born into the utmost poverty and weakness. As St. Therese said, “A God who became so small can only be love and mercy.”
Our world is so in need of a word of comfort at this time. It is so in need of knowing that this is exactly what the Lord desires to come into. This world with its sickness, fear, struggles, and sufferings that He chose to become man in. His love and mercy are beyond measure. It’s a truly awesome truth which He reveals every day – even through a frosty morning.
“Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all consolation, He comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation we have received from Him.” (2 Cor 1:3-4)
Sr. Rosa Ines, CFR