“…I behold him, though not near: A star shall advance
from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel.
“…Your ways, OLORD, make known to me; teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior…”
Psalm 25: 4-5ab
“…Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?...
As we continue into the Third week of Advent, we are invited to be watchful
for “the Lord is near”. What a great reminder, even though the Lord
is always near, dwelling inside of us, during this time of year the message
becomes all the more real to us.
In our Old Testament reading from the Book of Numbers, we hear a Messianic
prophecy from Balaam, a soothsayer or foreteller, who had been summoned by
Balak, the King of Moab, to curse the Israelites because they were growing
so large in number and he feared being overtaken by them. But instead
Balaam hears God speak to him, persuading him to bless the Israelites rather
than follow the Kings wishes to curse them. In the midst of his fourth oracle
of praise and blessings he says “A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff
shall rise from Israel.” (Num. 24:17) Christ is both
star and staff in this reference.
In the reading in Matthew, we find Jesus teaching in the temple when the
chief priests and elders approach and question his authority. Jesus
answers their question with a question, for which they reply they do not
know the answer, and Jesus comes back with “…Neither shall I tell you by
what authority I do these things.” (Mt. 21:27) Jesus’ statement
assumes he does not hold them in authority to answer their questions since
they couldn’t answer his question. Reading page after page of the good
works that Jesus performed it is hard to imagine the line of questioning
that the Jewish people had for Jesus back then. From Christ’s teaching
with authority in the temple to his curing the sick and dying how could you
not see Jesus as the Anointed One, the Son of God? Compare this scene
of Christ’s authority being questioned, to the scene of John the Baptist
who in seeing Jesus walk by, calls him the Lamb of God, the One whom the
world has been awaiting. What is the difference between the eyesight
of the beholders in these two scenes from Christ’s time here on earth?
I believe the amount of time John the Baptist spent in prayer explains it
May we feel the invitation to spend the remainder of this holy season until
Christmas making more time for personal prayer, perhaps seeking the silence
of the desert. There we will meet the God who is with us all the time,
and like John the Baptist and Balaam from today’s reading in the Book of
Numbers our eyes will be opened to see with new sight. Christ’s Peace
to You…Happy Advent.