for Sunday, December 12, 2010
Advent invites us to ask about salvation over and over. Sometimes we are
so caught up in religious words that we overlook the simple reality:
salvation is to share in God's life and not be imprisoned in our own. That
can sound as if we are all going to become one in God, a sort of
panentheism (a big word that describes a future in which we lose our
individuality and simply disappear in God). That is not the promise that
we are given. We are given a promise of personal life in God, a life in
which we are all in God, but all still ourselves and not simply
disappearing into some formless God.
This future life is dreamed of by the Prophet Isaiah in today's first
reading. He foresees a land in which everything really works together for
the good of all and for the good of each. If we are among those
experiencing this salvation, then we will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.
Probably most of us at times long for a time in our own lives when
everything works well, when our relationships with others and with God are
all that they can be, when the world is at peace and our loves ones are
also sharing in such a good time.
Today's second reading is from the Letter of James. The author is
encouraging us to have patience because only in patience can we wait for
the world to be transformed into God's own image. James tells us to take
the prophets as our models. The prophets were able to wait for the world
to come in which everything would be perfect and people would live in peace
with one another. The prophets could even describe such a world - like the
description we have today from the prophet Isaiah.
Matthew's Gospel for today echoes the longing of the prophets in the
longing of the people of Jesus' own time. They go out to see John the
Baptist, hoping for a Messiah who will save them from oppression by the
Romans. John the Baptist himself seems unsure that Jesus is the Messiah
and so sends his followers to Jesus to ask Him. Jesus does not give a
direct answer. This happens so often in the Gospels that we have to become
used to this style of thinking and writing.
What happens here is that Jesus wants John the Baptist (and us) to
discover whether He is really the Messiah. Just because He might say that
He is will not convince everyone. Words are far too easy. So Jesus tells
John the Baptist: Look for yourself: the blind regain their sight, the
lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the
poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who
takes no offense at me. What do these things mean to you?
We have to ask ourselves today about what signs are given to us. Jesus
tells us that the only sign is the sign of Jonah the Prophet. So we are
left to make a decision about whether we believe in the Resurrection of
Jesus or not. If we don't, then any kind of faith in Jesus is just
foolishness. If we do believe, then our actions must begin to echo our
Advent: He is coming! Come, Lord Jesus! For you and me: let us live
the faith that we profess by our actions.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: