tells us “Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Mt 11:15) at the end of the Gospel
today. So what are we hearing? Are we even listening?
Today I hear Jesus saying that John the Baptist is the greatest person born
of woman, but even the least of the Kingdom is greater than he. (Mt 11:11-12)
John the Baptist testified to the imminence of the kingdom of God.
Jesus is telling him, his disciples, the people in the crowd around him and,
most of all, us that the kingdom is here and now and we are all called to
work for the kingdom. Yet Jesus says that the kingdom suffers violence
and that the violent are taking it by force” (Mt 11:12). So what are
we to do?
Last Sunday Isaiah told us that we are buds from the root of Jesse and that
we must bloom. He tells us that the Spirit of the Lord rests on each
of us and we have received wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge,
awe and piety (Is 11:1-3). We believe that we receive these gifts of
the Spirit in confirmation and we become ‘soldiers’ of Christ. I am
hearing today that we have the personal responsibility to actively work for
the kingdom with kindness, honesty, humility and with a genuine devotion
to the Truth.
Our response to the Psalm today supports this idea. It reminds us that
God and God’s kingdom are about: graciousness, compassion, tolerance and
great kindness. Yet, that is not what Jesus saw in his day and it certainly
is not what we see in our day. Our reading from Isaiah today promises
God’s help in working for God’s kingdom. “Fear not, I will help you”
(Is 41:13). I will provide all you need to refresh and comfort you
on your way through the desert; water for your thirst, tall trees for shade
(acacia) and plants for food (olive) and worship (myrtle) (Is 41:18-19).
Isaiah foretold, John expected and Jesus confirmed that the kingdom of God
is among us (Lk 17:21). We have been given all the tools to achieve
God’s kingdom here on earth. It is God’s will that we let that “little
light” shine for all the world to see. God will provide the courage,
strength and renewal we need because it will take many people, much time
and energy, and most of all faith, hope and love to realize God’s kingdom
here ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’ We must think out-of-the-box of
Jesus coming on clouds to save us and begin to think that it is our responsibility
to respond to the many gifts God has given us by putting our efforts toward
creating a world that reflects God to everyone.
This Advent may we wake up and prepare room for God in our hearts and in
our world so that God’s reign of justice, peace and love may come to men
and women of all races and languages and the earth will be filled with God’s
glory. “Whoever has ears ought to hear.”