Over the past few weeks, in the Psalms, we have prayed to God as the Good Shepherd to guide us, to turn us toward Him again. We've prayed for God to step in and help us be good people. Today, we specifically ask God to show us His kindness. In those past weeks, though, we were truly asking for kindness. However harsh the punishment might be that turns us back to God, it is ultimately a kindness, because what is the alternative? Whatever the price is for us to be brought back to God - even kicking and screaming - it is worth it to earn eternity with Him. That firm hand, like that of a loving father, *is* one expression of God's kindness.
We need it to prepare for Christ's return. We need it to prepare to meet Him face-to-face.
How else do we prepare? In the first reading (Is 40:1-5, 9-11), Isaiah says that "every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain..." That sounds like humility to me. John the Baptist demonstrates this in the Gospel (Mk 1:1-8), declaring that "I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals." We spend so much time in our lives trying to "get things under control", to "be on top of the situation". Its very hard to realize that we're not in control, that however "on top" we get, someone is higher still.
In the second reading (2 Pt 3:8-14), Peter adds that the followers of Christ should be "conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion" and "be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him".
Take a moment during this busy time of year to stop and realize that you're not in control. (This is probably never easier than in the midst of the Christmas shopping frenzy. Stop and look around during a prime opportunity!) Consider how you conduct yourself, how you treat others. For all the joy and love that should abound during this season, it seems easier now more than ever to be frustrated and tired of our fellow man - especially our families. Are we treating others as we would treat Him? Are we acting with holiness and devotion, as the Shepherd's spotless lambs?