“Happy is the one who does not lose faith in me.”

Luke 7:23

Day of Reconciliation – Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Luke 7:18-23

Today’s scripture reading occurs near the beginning of Luke’s gospel. Jesus has started his ministry, going about preaching and healing the sick. John the Baptist summons two of his disciples and sends them to Jesus to ask him: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”

Jesus response is not direct. He does not say: “Yes, it is I.” Instead he tells them to look around. “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, lepers are cleansed, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” In other words, look at the signs of the kingdom all around you. Can you not see what is happening?

Then Jesus adds a postscript: “And happy is the one who does not lose faith in me.” That’s a little strange, isn’t it? What is Jesus saying? He seems to be saying: happy are those who see the signs and believe, without doubting what they see. Happy are those who understand that the kingdom of God is here in their midst and not somewhere else. Happy are those who don’t find it surprising that the Son of God should appear in such a lowly ordinary form as a carpenter from Nazareth.  

The question could be posed to all of us. If we were to meet Jesus today, in our everyday lives, how would he appear? Would he appear as someone important and powerful? Would he be someone who dazzled us with his appearance and his personality? Or would he be someone who went around doing good and quietly, humbly, gently, proclaiming the good news to the poor in a way that invited simple surrender? How many of us would recognise such a Jesus? 

It has been rightly said that Jesus never wrote a book, never held a political office, never commanded an army. Yet, all the books written, all the empires created and all the armies that have marched have not had an impact on the world that this one life, lived in Palestine 2000 years ago, did. 

Today in South Africa we celebrate the Day of Reconciliation, created soon after 1994 to replace the Day of the Covenant, a day of division and a symbol of the past. How much reconciliation do we still need? How much of God’s healing power do we still require in this land? 

Lord Jesus,

You came among us as one of us, a man from Nazareth. You did not come as someone powerful and famous, a person it would be impossible to ignore. You came from a simple home and family. Yet you brought about the Kingdom of God by what you said and did. You restored sight to the blind, you made the deaf hear, you cleansed the lepers, and you proclaimed the good news of the kingdom to the poor. Help us in this land to bring peace and reconciliation to each other. Help us to learn to build anew. Help us to bring your healing hand to all our people, so that we may truly reflect the Kingdom of God on earth.

Amen.

 
Tim Smith

Tim Smith is Regional Director for the Jesuit Refugee Service in Southern Africa, which covers Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe. He lives in Cape Town with his wife Shona and son Patrick.

t.smith@jesuitinstitute.org.za
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