God is faithful (1 Cor 1, 9)
Repentant, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our forgiving Savior.
The prophet Isaiah confesses with sadness and humility the failings of the chosen people. He acknowledges their uncleanness, their tainted righteousness, their unfruitfulness and their forgetfulness of the Lord. He bewails the misfortunes that has befallen them and accepts that they are just harvesting what they planted.
But the prophet does not wallow in self-pity, which is what those with superiority complex do when they fail (cf. CM Rules XII:3). He continues to believe that nothing happens without Providence either willing or permitting it—God himself even hardening the hearts of those who stray. He remembers the Lord’s mercy and his saving, memorable deeds, never seen and heard before.
The remembrance of the Lord’s wondrous deeds gives the prophet confidence and hope. Surely, God will renew his love for his people. The Lord will not be the God who characterizes himself as merciful and gracious, if he does not listen to the one who cries out, “Return for the sake of your servants ….”
The Eucharist, the proclamation of the death of the Lord until he comes, is a remembrance of God’s greatest saving deeds. This anamnesis in itself instills the greatest and most efficacious hope, given that it is Christ himself who is at work through the Church in the sacraments. If, then, we participants continue to despair of God and of ourselves, we only have ourselves to blame. We must examine ourselves before we eat the bread and drink the cup.
In fact, the prophet Isaiah already warns us of the danger of worship degenerating into a self-righteous gesture. I so easily presume too much of my faithful fulfillment of religious duties that I come close to thinking that grace is something that God owes me. But the sure teaching, which is opposed to a self-congratulatory attitude and a magical mentality, is that I am still a useless servant even after fulfilling everything that has been commanded.
Authentic worship, far from leading to meritocratic pretensions, which are always exclusivist, gives rise rather to acts of humble and disinterested service. Out of participation in the Eucharist flows, for example, such procession as the one that St. Vincent de Paul witnessed in Châtillon (Coste IX:243).
This, in part, is what it means to be watchful and alert, for the awaited Savior can come at any moment, in the form of God or, surprisingly, in the form of an immigrant, a widow or an orphan.
Return, Lord Jesus. Grant to us who confess our sins the grace to recognize you every time you come to visit us.