Third Sunday of Advent: JOY!
DISCLAIMER: So, Reader, I'm a touch behind, but this week has been a pretty hectic one for me! I'm gettin' this all caught up. :) Thank you for your patience!
Here we are, Reader. Already the Third Week of Advent. This month seems to be racing by, doesn’t it?
As I was reading the Scripture passages for today, a couple of things came to mind. In Isaiah, he talks about restoration. A mental image flashed in my mind, about as winter’s time ends and springtime starts to come around, and as we slowly come around and start seeing warmer weather, it’s really no different than what we’re waiting for and preparing for our Beloved Lord’s Grand Arrival!
Think about it like this: For thousands of years before He first came to us, we were kind of in a weird stasis, right, trying to figure things out, having an aimless wander, confused as to which direction to go. Moses came down from Mount Sinai, as the Book of Exodus tells us, to find his friends and family parading and carousing around a golden calf they’d made because they thought that Moses had left them. He hadn’t. So, God said, ‘Alright, I’m going to make what I expect of you all abundantly clear.’ He gave us the 10 Commandments, or as some call it, the Decalogue. ...and yet… We still didn’t listen, did we? You read story after story after story, all of these are accounts of humans just tripping over themselves, and to be fair, each other, about what God did or did not mean when He said what He did in each Commandment. What He meant, or didn’t mean.
Eventually, our cries were loud enough, Jesus said, ‘I’m coming.’ He came to us on a chilly December night in the form of an Infant to draw us in and help us feel more comfortable approaching the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our Beloved Lord loves us that much, He chose to be the Sacrificial Lamb so we wouldn’t have to suffer the way we deserved to, He took that on Himself for us, in our stead. Often, I wonder… ‘But… Why, Beloved, did You do this for us?’ The answer is in the Catechism and the Bible:
‘With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: ‘For us men and for our salvation He came down from Heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, He became Incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made Man. The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, Who ‘loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins’ : ‘the Father has sent His Son as the Saviour of the world,’ and ‘He was revealed to take away sins’ (1 John 4.10; 4.14; 3.5):
Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Saviour; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?
The Word became Flesh so that thus we might know God’s Love: ‘In this way the love of God was made manifest amongus, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.’ (1 John 4.9) ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3.16) The Word became Flesh to be our model of holiness, ‘Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me.’ ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me.’ (Matthew 11.29; John 14.6). On the Mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands, ‘Listen to Him!’ (Mark 9.7; cf Deuteronomy 6.4-5) Jesus is the Model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ (John 15.12) This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after His Example. (cf Mark 8.34).’ – CCC 456-59
‘But, what does this have to do with Spring and Winter?’ you might be wondering? Well, one of my favourite things about the Easter story is when He told our Mama, ‘Behold, I make all things new again!’ Each year, we get a little tiny glimpse of that. When the winter nap starts to slowly wear off and the whole world seems to wake from that ‘sleep,’ everything’s fresh and renewed and restored to life. What was once dead has come back. This time with a new vigour.
Now, taking that and circling to the First Reading, Isaiah 35 talks about things blooming, weak legs will be made strong.
I love poetry.
As a writer, I love almost anything written. There are a few things I generally won’t ever touch, but poetry was, for a long time, something I could not get enough of, so much so I wrote my own for several years. The language Isaiah uses in his poem, it’s not unlike the language David used in a reading we had not too long ago from Psalm 23. There’s a lot of vivid imagery here. Phrases like, ‘the steppe will rejoice and bloom.’ and there’s this gem: ‘the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.’ It’s almost like you can see the thawing away of the cruel hands of death giving way to the warmth and beauty of what God has waiting on the other side of that season for us. This season we’re in, I’m not talking Advent, but the season of life, itself, we see a lot of gloom and doom when we turn on the news (or, in my case, open my e-mail and catch the headlines that way… I don’t own a telly). It’s awful, isn’t it? Fighting, child abuses, murders, the list seems endless, and it seems like, ‘When, Lord, when will You fix this?!’ But He reminds us through Isaiah, ‘...say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, He comes with vindication; with Divine Recompense, He comes to save you.’
And I love this next line, ‘Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.’
Not unlike winter thawing away to become spring, am I right? Even in the Second Reading, our brother St James reminds us to be patient, that the coming of the Lord is at hand. I mean… with all that’s happening in the world, this seemingly never-ending suffering, it’s going to give way and Jesus is going to make all things new again. Better. Wonderful. Our Beloved Lord even reminds us in the Gospel, from His own Precious Voice, directly to the disciples: ‘the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.’
Years ago, I heard a phrase that made me feel a little caught off guard, confused even. ‘This is the backwards economy of God.’ I never quite understood that, but then I came to realize, in a way, it’s flipping everything we know on its ear.
When Jesus talks about this directly when He was here the first time, and on down through the prophets before He came to us, the Bible is rife with constantly reminding us that what we think is ‘beautiful’ and ‘royal’ and ‘super important’ now will be flipped around where ‘less-than’ people will become elevated above the ‘important’ ones. Jesus came to us as a Helpless Infant, born to a poor family – I mean, let’s be honest here, St Joseph wasn’t quite rolling in the gold, and I think if Jesus wasn’t trying to make a clear point, He’d have been born to a royal family of the time in a super posh palace somewhere, right? – and He chose to take things that were broken and fix them. He is our Divine Physician, but more than that, as He had been stating over and over and over again all throughout His Ministry, even right up to the last few staggering breaths up to Calvary, He said, ‘I’m going to fix this. Just wait and see!’ He died so we could live. He gave us our new breath with His Final Gasp. The First Infant Cries that were uttered by Him in His Human Form, it’s like the Divine Reset Button had started to be pressed for us, setting everything into motion.
Because He loves us that much.
We spent thousands of years wandering in a cold wilderness, waiting for the Light to break through the perma-cloud that we found ourselves in from the moment of the First Sin all the way back in the Garden. Our Lord’s Birth was the Breakthrough Rays that pierced those clouds, showing us that there is Beauty and Light waiting for us. But we must be patient. We must keep going. We must keep pushing through the fog, because as the old saying goes, ‘There is a light at the end of the tunnel.’
Our Beloved Jesus is that Light. The tunnel we’re in, it’s not where we belong. He is beckoning to us, gently calling to us and sharing with us little hints that ‘new things are coming.’ We are going to be restored. Our loved ones who are sick, they will be made healthy again. Those of us who suffer with ailments – mental or physical – we will be made whole. Horrible bosses will be brought to their knees. Bullies? A thing of the past. Our Beloved Jesus is going to come and fix all of this for us. This is what we keep missing each year as the seasons shift and change. This is what we need to be watching for. We’re constantly crying out, ‘When?’ And the answer is always the same: ‘Be patient, My Child. Be patient. I’ve got you. It’s going to be okay.’
In what areas of your life are you too impatient to wait for Jesus to show you what to do? How can you prepare your heart for Him so He can show you how to be still and wait for Him?