December 15, 2013

ADVENT III (A)

        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. Ė Matt. 11: 5

   This is the time of the year when a lot of effort is expended on wrapping presents in colorful paper with satin ribbons & all sorts of stickers. The whole purpose of gift giving is not you doing the wrapping, although that is important, but the unwrapping by someone else. The giver is not the focus of the process but the recipient.

   Our attempts at discerning Godís will for us in His Word (both scripture & the person of Jesus) is our way of unwrapping Godís gift to us. In todayís Gospel, Our Lord was beginning to unwrap His beautiful message of love for the blind, the lame, the deaf & the poor. Each of these conditions can be either physical or spiritual or both. Letís take a deeper look at what it means to unwrap.

   In His early years, Jesus was kept pretty much under wraps; but in todayís Gospel He showed Who He was & what his message was. Our faith tells us that can happen in our own time if we will let it happen. All of us have blind spots that we have been keeping under wraps, & parts of us that are lame. We need to be cleansed so that the dead spots in our relationships with family, friends, & God can be revived by Jesus so that life may flourish again.

   This season is an invitation to each of us to reach down deep within ourselves & unwrap some of those feelings of anger, rage, hatred & distrust & give them away, let them go. Confession is much more than the reciting of a laundry list of sins. It is a decision to unwrap deep seated hostilities & offer them to God. His response is a gift of grace that does more than cover up our sins: it removes the sin & transforms us.

   The best gift we can give a spouse, our family, our parents or friends is to offer them the gift of our self without the prejudices, the conditions, the unforgiven anger. But if we want it to be ready for Christmas, we have to start now. It takes time to deal with unconscious feelings of anger, fear & hostility. In many cases you may not know it is there. Our friends or relatives may know, but we do not know. The challenge is not to keep them under wraps, but to get them out into the open so we can deal with them constructively.

   It goes without saying that we cannot do this without help along the way. It may take a confessor or a Christian counsellor, but we certainly need the help of our Lord who knows how to cure the deaf, the blind, & the lame. Finally, we need the help of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth & of joy, which is a gift ready to be unwrapped today if we have the faith to do so. In the end, getting rid of such spiritual handicaps is probably the best gift of all that we could give our loved ones.  AMEN!