Scripture: Is.35:1-6,10; Ps.145; James 5:7-10; Matt.11:2-11.
Composition of Place: I see myself standing humbly before the Lord who loves me.
Grace I/we seek: I ask for the Grace of appreciation of the beauty …and the fragility …of our common home; to collaborate in the care of our Common Home.
The Word of the Lord does not only create as in Genesis 1, it is recreative. It is the Word of Life and whenever it enters our world, our lives, it brings life. This is the recreative power that we see at work in Isaiah’s vision of the creation redeemed and restored.
It is also about the human creation, the society we make for ourselves. Is it too a place of human flourishing or do we make of it a desert in which the human spirit dies slowly from lack of hope and compassion?
Isaiah sees that Israel’s restoration and glory is not only for Israel but for all humanity. In powerful imagery which resonates with so many situations today, the prophet speaks of the joy of being finally ransomed, set free from bondage and slavery, and also of returning home from exile. Each one of us who has been touched by Christ and His Spirit will recognise the experience.
Yet, he is also expressing Israel’s mission, to ransom and to bring the exile home. This is the great work of reconciliation and salvation and it is a mission that belongs to every Christian whether it is expressed in our own circle of family and friends or through our commitments to bring about justice and protest the many forms of oppression. It our service of the Kingdom.
In these Advent days the Spirit is poured out upon us and our world. We can ask that the Spirit dwell more deeply in our hearts; give us courage and overcome our faint heart and renew our strength when we grow weary of the struggle. (Isaiah.35:1-6, 10).
The psalm witnesses to the decisive difference God makes to the world. It is the God who comes to our help, especially those who stand in need of an advocate: the vulnerable, the needy, those who are outsiders…….. The healing of society is also the healing of creation. Luke echoes the psalm (Ps 7:22)
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we discover that we are not alone, he walks with us. “It is the Lord who keeps faith forever….’ (Ps.145).
As we renew our faith in the incarnation and are held in wonder at what God has done for us, we need, too, the grace of patience.
Advent does not disguise the darkness that can touch us. Now, in the Gospel we find ourselves before John in prison.
In all our prisons we can come to doubt; to wonder if we have made a mistake or somehow got it wrong. In prison the whole of purpose of John’s life is disclosed. He shows us that hoping, trusting is also the work of a prophet. Patience is faith waiting on God.
John also teaches us how to be bold. To ask for the consolation, the assurance that we need, and to let God choose the moment to respond; that kairos which is the best time for God’s purpose.
John receives a magnificent response, for it is in prison, knowing how precarious his life is in the hands of Herod, that he hears the gospel: all the prophecies all fulfilled. His hope was not in vain, but the answer is not in the great earth-shattering events or even the great world transforming events that might have been expected. It is in the person of Jesus.
The answer to our deepest and most profound questions, those on which we have staked our life, come with a person; it comes in a person: Jesus. Can we believe in him?
Jesus is the answer that John sought, and so his prison was transformed from a place of doubt and loss to a place of liberation, hope and faith. In our walking and accompanying, in our listening and in the self-gift of our presence, above all with our faith, all our prisons can be places of transformation for even there, we can glimpse the advent of the gospel; there, too, we find Christ.
Maybe this is our Gaudete Sunday?