On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.
Advent season is a real spiritual season that is constantly being hijacked by the culture that makes many demands. The culture calls the season of Advent the season of Christmas and prevails upon us to be festive and fun. We must go shopping, display lights, put up trees and decorations, go to concerts, parades, parties, and school assemblies, mail packages and cards, donate to charities, gather in groups to watch Christmas movies or sing carols. So it can be quite a disconnection when our spiritual new year begins with talk of tears, dark valleys, and our need for salvation. Where exactly are we?
If you have ever needed to be saved, you know that the danger you face pushes all festivities into a distant background. It can just feel wrong when the world says, “be bright and happy”, yet we are struggling with health issues both chronic and acute or other personal or financial crises. It is always in the dark times that we go to find the Lord and search through our tears for the light in darkness.
Advent is a season to find our faith. As the great crowds who came to Jesus for creative miracles, opening blind eyes, restoring flesh, giving voice to the mute and mobility to the crippled, people still wondered and doubted that he would be able to create food too.
Jesus cared about the people who were desperate for healing and he also cared for the needs of the other pilgrims who were so starved for his words that they out-lasted any number of provisions they could have brought. He multiplied flesh and he multiplied food. God showed his mastery of the natural and the supernatural.
If we are faced with a difficult time now, these readings help us to be assured that God wants what is good for us and that he alone has the power to save us. Today, give thanks and praise to God in your situation and trust that God has compassion and the ability to provide and restore you in all your needs.