Second Tuesday in Advent - December 11th
Today’s readings reiterate the importance associated with one of the eight redemptive names of the Lord — Jehovah-Raah, which means a shepherd who tenderly loves, leads, and protects. The reading from Isaiah speaks to the Lord’s glory in Israel’s liberation. The poetic language used in verses 1-11 depicts the return of the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem. We learn of the Lord’s promise of salvation and that the exiles were led back to Jerusalem only by the grace of God.
In its biblical context, the word shepherd denotes a friend, keeper, pastor, or companion. Surely at one time or another we all have come to know God as one of these roles—if not all of them. This Advent Season, it is important for us to recall the times in our lives when God proved to be a faithful friend or companion. What better time of year to exercise this gift of recollection? Reminiscing on God’s goodness and faithfulness must work in tandem with praise and exultation. Psalm 96 invites all humanity to rejoice in the splendor and the glory of the Lord, “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all you lands. Sing to the Lord; bless his name; announce his salvation, day after day.”
In Matthew’s gospel, the joy the shepherd feels when finding the one lost sheep affirms that every member of the body is precious and invaluable in God’s eyes. Both the psalm and the gospel affirm that the Lord is the shepherd who maintains close covenant with his sheep. The way in which God loves all of his children so tenderly and personally as if each one is his sole concern is quite marvelous. Surely, “The Lord is our shepherd and we shall not want.” This is an amazing love that warrants much recollection, reflection, and praise.
Chimere G. Holmes