I know this isn’t Lent but I want you to take a moment and look at the Crucifix. What do you see?
John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if he was the one to come, if he was the messiah. Jesus replies by asking them what they hear and see. 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. These were not random examples that Jesus was proving himself with. In the first reading the prophet Isaiah, long before the time of Christ and John the Baptist, said, “say to those whose hearts are frightened […] here is your God […] he comes to save you […] then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared, then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing”. This is what happens in the presence of God and the coming of the messiah. Healing, peace, restoration, rejoicing. And that is what had been handed on to us about the life of Jesus. He restored sight and hearing, cured leprosy, raised the dead. People followed him because they found their lives filled with rejoicing in his presence. All leading to Jerusalem and the road of Calvary.
What do you see in that crucifix? One answer we can give through faith – and hopefully from the reality of our hearts as well – is still healing, peace, restoration, and rejoicing… and much more profound than some individuals being healed in their physical bodies. I mean, who does that? Most people find it hard to sacrifice even small things without good reason, and most people react to being unjustly hurt with anger. Who suffers something like that willingly? Who says in the midst of that type of pain and suffering “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”?
God does. Jesus Christ does. God looks at you… He looks at me… He looks at all His creation knowing that in our beautiful gift of free will we so often don’t look back at Him in that moment of sin and temptation… and He chooses to love us anyway, even to the point of entering into our brokenness and our suffering. Not only would he take on human flesh so that we could know him and his love in the most natural, real, and understandable way… but then he loved us to the end.
The Gospel today closes with Jesus praising John the Baptist. I think it’s because John taught them to see and hear what was around them. The people went out expecting a prophet but they found something more, someone preparing the way for the messiah. John gave them a greater expectation, taught them to go to Christ with that question of who he is. Advent, I think, teaches us the same thing. We came to faith expecting lesser things, expecting answers about life or a structure that we can follow and find meaning in, or any other sort of thing, maybe even to find God. But Advent reminds us of a greater expectation, of finding a God who knows us personally, who has always known us, who gave us His own Blood in a new covenant before we even took our first breath, a promise of love, salvation, and rejoicing.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.