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Simcha FisherDecember 07, 2021
Photo by Mario Caruso on Unsplash

A Reflection for the Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent


The reading for today always makes me laugh.

“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,” it begins. And what form will this tender comfort take?

Oh, you know. Valleys leveled. Mountains getting blasted flat. The glory of the Lord flashing out over the world like a scythe, mowing down everything in its path. And all human flesh like grass, withering and wilting when the breath of the Lord blows upon it.

Don’t you feel better now?

“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,” it begins. And what form will this tender comfort take?

Yes. Yes, I do. Because I have read the whole reading for the day. The first reading kind of bafflingly plows forward, insisting that it is good news and glad tidings that the Lord is coming to wreck the place up, knock everything down, stride into your cities with his unthinkable power and strength and make the place unrecognizable—and then suddenly, it stops short and switches gears:

“Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, Carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.”

I always thought it was so strange that Isaiah wrote this passage and did not see any contradiction, if only in tone, between all this talk of power and strength and might on the one hand, and gentleness and tenderness and care on the other. Which is it? Does the Lord come to rough us up—or to save us?

But the second reading answers pretty definitively, and the answer is, of course, both.

When it said, in the first reading “Though the grass withers and the flower wilts, the word of our God stands forever,” the “word” that he speaks of is an actual person. The word is Jesus, and that is exactly how he acted. He came to tear down, and he came to rebuild. He came to vanquish, and he came to resurrect. He came to do something new. He is the word, and he does what he likes.

The Lord comes in like a hurricane, like an earthquake, shattering, wrecking, laying waste and flattening mountains—until he doesn’t. What is it that stops him in his tracks?

So let’s see what it is he likes to do.

The second reading is short. It is the very familiar parable of the man with a hundred sheep, who leaves the 99 to go after the one who has gone astray.

“And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the 99 that did not stray.”

He rejoices! God comes across as such an emotional fellow in these passages, and that tells us something true: It tells us how personal it all is to him. The Lord comes in like a hurricane, like an earthquake, shattering, wrecking, laying waste and flattening mountains—until he doesn’t. What is it that stops him in his tracks?

One little lamb. One stupid little lamb who doesn’t know enough to come home and instead has to go and be fetched. That’s what the Lord does with all that crazy strength and power. He goes and brings us home.

“Though the grass withers and the flower wilts, the word of our God stands forever,” Isaiah wrote.

The word is Jesus. That is why he came. I’m the lamb. You’re the lamb. It’s personal. Yes, those are tender words. Yes, they bring comfort.

Get to know Simcha Fisher, contributing writer


1. Favorite Christmas Hymn

Of the Father’s Love Begotten

2. Favorite Christmas Tradition:

One of my kids gives everyone in the family either a cake or a pie for Christmas every year. While we open our present from her, everybody chants, “Cake or pie? Cake or pie? CAKE OR PIE?” and then cheers wildly when we find out which it is.

3. Favorite Christmas Recipe:

So it is not strictly Christmas, but you cannot beat apricot walnut rugelach. They are surprisingly easy to make, and the dough only has 7,000 calories per cubic inch.

4. Favorite Article You Wrote This Year

I tried my hand at something like a short story this year: Love and fear from way up here

5. Favorite Christmas Photo

A photo from the 2020 Christmas vigil Mass, me and my husband Damien and our youngest, Cornelia, who was terrible.

Fisher Christmas

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