December 12, 2010
ADVENT III (A)
Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another? – Mt. 11: 3
John is in prison, & he has had lots of time to think. Perhaps he was asking himself questions like “Where’s the peaceable kingdom? The blooming desert? Reconciliation, brotherhood? Did I back the wrong horse? Was it all an illusion? Has Jesus made a difference?”
Are our questions much different today? We’ve been involved in costly, seemingly endless wars for 9 years, & terrorism stalks us. Institutionalized corruption is everywhere from Congress to churches to boardrooms to baseball. It is reported today that most marriages do not last to celebrate their silver anniversary. We have a bumper crop of fatherless children, many of whom morph into gang members to find some sense of belonging.
Everyone seems to have a hand-held phone, but we seem unable to have any gracious & civil face-to-face communication. We are exposed to a virtual world but cannot achieve any sustained intimacy in the real world. Pornography is easy to come by, love so hard. Consumption fills our homes & empties our hearts. Some Messiah! Should we look for another? Some have.
Our Lord’s response to John & to us goes something like this: “I’m really not what you expected, what people wanted – the tabloid Messiah at CNN, the celebrity survivor, the powerful judge, the master to impose conformity & obedience. I have not come to enforce virtue & wipe out evil. You won’t find me in the halls of power. Remember, I was born in a stable.”
“But, I tell you, you WILL find me wherever someone helps the blind to see, the lame to walk, the sick to heal, the deaf to hear, the spiritually dead to rise, & the poor to live better lives. Blessed is the one who takes no offense at my doing it this way.” If indeed, we do see such things, then these are clear signals of the Messiah’s presence among the ruins of our society, & people will know & be lifted up from despair & find hope.
Here’s the story of a man who grew up in a modest household in a very rural area. His parents could not supply much in the way of material goods but they always provided the love, faith & guidance their son needed to face the world:
One day, tragedy struck the poor family. Their house caught on fire & burned to the ground. The father & son went to town to buy some meager supplies, while the mother sifted through the ashes to find something she could salvage. When the father & son returned from their trip to town, they saw a wondrous sight. From the ashes of their house the mother had found a few books & dishes & papers. She had also found a small can that she filled with freshly picked wildflowers from the fields around them. When the boy & his father saw that arrangement of glorious wildflowers in the midst of the ashes, they knew everything was going to be alright.
That’s a good metaphor for today’s Gospel. If we make ourselves as wildflowers in the midst of the ashes of today, people won’t have to ask if they should look for another. They will know the Messiah has come. AMEN!