December 16, 2020
by Andy Alexander, S.J.
Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
Lectionary: 189

Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-25
Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
Luke 7:18-23

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Turn to me and be safe,
all you ends of the earth,
for I am God; there is no other!
- Isaiah 45

“Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. 
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
Luke 7

This year, today is the last day of the first part of Advent. Beginning tomorrow, we will follow the story of our salvation, leading up to the Nativity.

In the midst of all we are facing these challenging days, it is wonderful to hear "I am God; this is no other!" It is consoling to be invited to "Turn to me and be safe." It is such a helpful Advent message because we too often tend to turn almost anywhere else but to our God - for relief, for comfort, for compensation - in our aloneness, our insecurity, our experience of isolation, in our awareness of our limitations, and, sometimes, in the face of our awareness of our contradictions and self-defeating patters. In this season, we turn with a growing longing. We long to be saved. To long is to recognize, and feel intensely, what we are missing, what is out of balance, what is in conflict within us. We long to be saved. We say, at a deeper and deeper level, "Come, Lord, Jesus. Come into my heart, where I'm feeling more and more my need for you. For you, and not for all the other things I turn to for my security, identity, comfort or relief." With the words of the prophet, we pray, in our deep desire, "Please, Lord, do indeed let justice rain down on the earth! Please, Lord, let justice spring up!" We really can miss Advent, if we prevent ourselves to experiencing a deep longing in our heart which leads us to cry out for Jesus to come into our hearts and make they whole, to give them his life and his zeal for his desires for the whole world.

It is a good time to be reminded that while John the Baptist was in prison and facing his own death, he sent disciples to Jesus to ask, "Are you the one?" In effect, he's saying, "I'm sitting here in jail. My preaching led to this. Are you the one? Are you our Savior?" Of course, we ask the same question when we feel like we're in trouble, or even when we get stressed or unhappy. "Are you my Savior?" Struggle can lead to debilitating doubt. Instead of revealing to us that he is our only Savior, and there is no other, our difficulties can lead us to turn away from the one who comes to save us.

Jesus answers John, and our fears. "Go tell John what you have seen and heard." Jesus reminds John that he has fulfilled the promise - all these powerful healings are happening, and "the poor have the good news preached to them." The brokenhearted have heard the Good News of his love and mercy. "And, blessed is the one who takes no offense at me." Jesus is saying there is a blessedness in not letting all the bad stuff scandalize us and turn us away from him. He is not the cause of evil in the world. Our selfishness, our greed, our lust for power is what leads to injustice and corruption and a world that no god could say, "I'm so happy this is the way things turned out." But, Jesus has come for healing, for mercy. His coming in history won the victory over sin and death. His coming to us on our Advent journey offers us freedom from what keeps us from him and from one another. The more we realize what we need, the more we desire it. The more we sense we need a Savior, the more we beg, "Come," with open hearts. The more we taste our poverty, the more we will hear the Good New proclaimed to us. He is the one; there is no other.

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