At that time, John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” When the men came to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’” At that time he cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; he also granted sight to many who were blind. And he said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” (Luke 7:18-23)
It seems to me that more people decked their houses more festively this year. More people are proclaiming holiday wishes. It’s as if more people want to see some light rather than dark. And well they should. Fear and darkness shrouded most of 2020. The pandemic raged, and still rages, around the world. In the United States, an election went on and on. At a time, when we needed to heal, anything but healing prevailed. Our spirits and souls call out for peace but some don’t seem to want that.
In the midst of all of this, comes today’s Gospel passage. John the Baptist languishes in the darkness of his cell. He sends his clinging disciples to Jesus to find in him the one to whom John’s whole life — and even his incarceration and death — would point.
To answer, Jesus reached back to Isaiah and used the language about the Messiah and his service to the lost, forgotten, and needy to remind John that he, Jesus, is the Christ of God. Jesus was what he said, and Jesus did what the prophets proclaimed he would do. He did it then and He does it now. Amidst all of this darkness, Jesus continues to work.
God’s hands are around us, like a potter’s hands around the clay—holding, shaping, and transforming the troubled clay of our lives into something useful and good. And it is in that action that we find hope.
God is in the midst of all of 2020, somehow guiding events to God’s own purposes. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that God sent a pandemic for a divine purpose. I am not suggesting that God desires Democrats and Republicans to attack one another and pit neighbors and family members against one another, Disease and divisions do not come from God. But when they do come, we believe that God is active and capable of drawing out of these difficult situations gifts that will be good for us.
And it is in that action of God that we find hope. So, the challenge of Advent is not to turn our backs on 2020 with disgust, but dare to ask how will God use the difficult events of this past year to make something beautiful? We can’t do that by clinging to the barnacles of this year. By continuing to use words that hurt, allowing our anger to rage inside while we present a fixed smile to the outside, by demonizing those who do not agree with us!
We have to level the mountains of pride, self-righteousness and egocentrism in our lives. We have to fill in the valleys that come from a shallow prayer life. We have to straighten out crooked paths: if we’ve been involved in some dishonest practices or living a double life, we’re called to straighten them out and do restitution; if we’ve been harboring grudges or hatred, or failing to reconcile with others, now’s the time to clear away all the debris now is the time to get our priorities straight.
This is why Advent is coming at just the right time for us. Advent is a season of hope, hope not in the things that have happened but in what God is doing. Today John continues to point out Jesus to us and wants us, like his emissaries in today’s Gospel, to go to Jesus and enter into deeper conversation with him, to consider all of his works, to be blessed for our faith in him. He wants us to go thirsty to receive the outpouring of God’s living water from above.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, help me in the Advent season to continue to prepare my heart for You. Help me to listen to Your Word and to heed all that You have to say. May I follow You in all things and above all things and never be offended by Your Word. Jesus, I trust in You.
Reflect, today, upon how completely open you are to the full truth of the Gospel. Are you ready and willing to listen to everything Jesus proclaims? Are you ready and willing to accept the full Gospel in your life? Let Advent be a time when you deepen your resolve to listen and heed all that our Lord wants to say to you. And if you see yourself “offended” in any way, know that the area of offense is most likely the area you need to work on the most.