Wednesday during Week 3 in the Season of Advent
A reading from the Holy Gospel, according to Luke. (Luke 7:19-23)
John, summoning two of his disciples sent them to the Lord to ask: Are you the one who is to come, or must we wait for someone else?
When the men reached Jesus, they said “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, are you the one who is to come or have we to wait for someone else?” It was just then that he cured many people of diseases and afflictions and of evil spirits and gave the gift of sight to many who are blind. Then he gave the messengers their answer. Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard. The blind see again. The lame walk. Lepers are cleansed. And the dead are raised to life. The good news is proclaimed to the poor and happy is the one who does not lose faith in me.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
We returned today to the second part of the Book of Isaiah or the Book of Consolation. And it’s unlike the first part of Isaiah which is written before the exile. This part is written after King Cyrus, the Persian conquers the Babylonians and sets the people of Israel free from their slavery in their captivity in Babylon. He allows them to return – so Cyrus is seen as something of a savior figure, something of an anointed one. He’s the only other person in the Hebrew scriptures who has that title of Messiah other than the Jewish kings themselves, and so Cyrus is seen in this very exalted kind of way, and indeed people within his own kingdom considered him to be one like the son of God and so Cyrus is this Messiah-like figure and so that’s the kind of sense of what a Messiah is meant to do, and to be someone who sets the people free; someone who liberates; someone who allows the people to claim their own Kingdom and to be set free from an oppressive regime. So it’s clear that John has something of this vision. It’s certainly a well-established model within Judaism that that was what the Messiah was meant to do, and Cyrus as a foreigner was a perfect example of this. Jesus has to change the paradigm he has to change the way that they understand what the Messiah is about. He’s about these much more practical and realistic ways of experiencing that freedom and that liberation.
It’s not about primarily political liberation. It’s not about other throwing the Roman’s but about allowing each individual person to come to that fullness of life, and so he points to these examples that he’s able to demonstrate. Look, the blind are able to see; the lame are able to walk; the deaf are able to hear; the dead even are raised to new life. I mean, how extraordinary is that? You know?
How can you get better signs than the wonders of what is able to be seen and done in the midst of all of that. And so this is the invitation that Jesus places before us as we reflect and ponder about what difference does it make to believe in Jesus as we prepare for the coming of Jesus?
What difference did it make that he was born that he came into our world that Jesus showed us what it was like? For God to become one of us, how does that change our own experience?
How does that inspire us; challenge us; call us; invite us – to do the same. I mean, that’s the point of Christianity. If we are the people of the Messiah, if we are the people that recognise that in Jesus, all of our hopes, all of our dreams have been satisfied and fulfilled. How does that change our encounter? How does that change the reality of how we live today?