First Reading: Isaiah 40:25-31
Psalm: Psalm 103:1-4, 8, 10
Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30

Very often the Israelites in exile allowed discouragement and depression to overwhelm them. They despaired of the future; they lost all hope of salvation. They were convinced that God had abandoned them and forgotten them.

In today’s first reading Isaiah wants to bring hope alive in his exiled people. He reminds them that their God Yahweh is a transcendent God and that he has no equal. He is greater than the universe he has created.

Isaiah encourages the people, “those who hope in Yahweh renew their strength, they soar as with eagles’ wings. They run and do not grow weary; they walk and never tire.” There is no need to despair; the Lord God is their hope.

From time to time perhaps all of us have experienced the discouragement and depression the Jewish people felt in their exile. God so often is absent when we need him most, when suffering and hardship beset us, when life is empty and without meaning, when we feel alone and unloved, when guilt keeps our failures before our eyes.

On these occasions the words Isaiah spoke to the Jewish exiles can be a source of encouragement to us also: “They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings. They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.”

The gospel tells us that in Jesus Isaiah’s prophesy finds fulfillment. If God is absent when we need him most, when suffering besets us, when life seems purposeless, when lonely and without love we bend under the weight of our guilt, we can turn to Jesus. The burden we bear will remain a burden, but Christ, Emmanuel, God-with- us, will help us carry it.

Jesus is God-with-us. We prepare for his coming on Christmas. Advent promises us not that he will eliminate our burdens, but that together with us he will bear them, so that “we shall soar as with eagles wings, we shall run and never grow weary.”

“Lord, inflame my heart with love for you and for your ways and help me to exchange the yoke of rebellion for the sweet yoke of submission to your holy and loving word. Set me free from the folly of my own sinful ignorance and rebellious pride that I may I wholly desire what is good and in accord with your will.”