Dec 10, 2023


It was the Jesuit priests who taught me in seminary who gave me an appreciation of and love for Classical music. Growing up in small-city 1970’s Aotearoa we didn’t think much about music that might be considered serious and high-brow. We were more captivated by what was catchy and popular.

One of the SJ‘s introduced me to George Frideric Handel’s great work, the Messiah oratorio.

This master-work of well over two hours was composed by Handel in an inspired working frenzy of less than a month two hundred and eighty years ago.

From its first performance in Dublin in 1742 it was overwhelmingly popular and continues to performed across the world especially in these Advent weeks. Even if you are not familiar with it you may have heard of the Hallelujah Chorus – perhaps the best-known piece in the work.

It’s on my mind because of today’s first reading which opens Handel’s work with the tenor aria. The aria begins with today’s first reading and concludes with John the Baptist from today’s Gospel reading:

Comfort ye
Comfort ye my people
Comfort ye
Comfort ye my people
Saith your God
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem
And cry unto her
That her warfare
Her warfare is accomplished
That her iniquity is pardoned
The voice of Him
That crieth in the wilderness
Prepare ye the way of the Lord
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God

What a great opening word for a work of art focussing on the life, death and resurrection of our Messiah: comfort.



The entire Messiah work, anticipating Jesus (Old Testament prophecies), the birth and ministry of Jesus, and the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, reminds us of the extraordinary measures God has taken to ensure (in the words of today’s gospel) that not one of us ever feel lost.

And it begins with the heart-felt desire of God, to bring us Comfort.

Let’s ask Him for the comfort now, and every moment when we think of this throughout the day.

And today let’s pay this gift forward and seek to bring comfort to others.



Take an initiative and send me a date time and place for a FFF cafe-catchups. I’ll advertise these on each morning’s post throughout Advent.  


TODAY Sunday 10 December 12noon
St Anthony’s Seatoun.
66 Falkirk Ave.

Monday 11 December 10.00am (& every Monday)
Moko Cafe, (at this link)
Bush Inn Centre, Christchurch

Click the image below to order FFF – the book.


  1. Fr John
    I used to see and hear this work performed before Christmas when at school in Nottingham UK and have heard it performed in Wellington Town Hall and here at the Christchurch Town Hall in recent years. A truly inspiring oratorio, which I would recommend to anyone even if they are not particularly into classical music.


  2. Thanks Fr John, the comfort of God is a heavenly thought and will especially helpful as I take on the challenge of Auckland’s northern motorway – it’s late afternoon and possibly about to start raining!

  3. Just what the doctor ordered! Four inoculations yesterday – allowing myself comfort is the perfect antidote. Thanks Fr John.

  4. F. John, I have been enjoying your advent reflections. I offered Mass today for you as if my memory has not failed me, is a special day for you?

    Myra B.

  5. Talking of comfort, we note +Francis adding to Litany of Loreto (today’s feast) ‘Mother of Mercy’; ‘Mother of Hope’; ‘Solace of Migrants’

  6. I remember fondly hearing the Messiah in 1992, Christchurch City Choir, Christchurch Symphony, conductor Brian Law. The tenor was Keith Lewis, from Ashburton. The words ‘Comfort ye’ were crystal clear and seemed to hang in the air in that stunning auditorium for all to see. In our busy lives we can fail to see and hear the messages being given to us.

  7. Further to my comment above, written last year perhaps, as you all above say, let us offer comfort, mercy and solace to others in memory of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. in fondness for his sacrificing mother, Mary.


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