Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Then at the precise instant when Jesus was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary the WHOLE PICTURE changed. Jesus was born and matured as a member of this people of faith, the children of Abraham. After about thirty years of experiencing a normal human life and identified by his neighbors and friends as the son of a Jewish carpenter Jesus began to say and do things that the religious leaders around him held for God alone to say and do.
Jesus did not deny the accuracy of their observations about him. Rather he took the occasions of their complaining as an opportunity to proclaim himself to be the Promised One of Genesis, justifying his supernatural words and deeds by identifying them as his credentials to help them have faith in him as Emmanuel, not just another prophet but as God Himself come among us as one of us in the mystery of His humanity yet as ever and always in the mystery of His divinity the Eternal Word.
In his genuine identity and capacity as one of us Jesus had no awareness of the content of the first paragraph of this blog. In His divine Identity as the Eternal Word of God ,divinely united with the Father and the Holy Spirit, He was well aware of it. Looking back, the event of Christmas is rooted in the event of the Annunciation nine months ago on March 25. Looking ahead the event of Christmas will reach full maturity in the event of Good Friday April 22, 2011.
As the baby Jesus of Christmas grows in His human experiences He will learn to say "Before Abraham came to be, I AM". (jn 8: 58). And: "Philip, to see Me is to see the Father," (Jn 14: 8,9). And: "I and the Father are one." (Jn 10:30). And: "Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you." (Mt 11: 28).And : "This is how all will know you are my disciples: your love for one another." (Jn 13: 35). And : "There is no greater love than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." ( Jn 15: 13). And, to Pilate: " You would have no power over me whatever unless it were given you from above." (Jn 19:11). And : " As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (Jn 20:21.
With these and similar texts in mind I hope to kneel before the manger again this Christmas in awe not at the authenticity of the figures in the crib but in the wonder of creation and my own life, waiting for further time color space and shapes into which God may call me in my 83rd year of life to discover and embrace the dramatic life and love of Emanuel, God-Among -us, which all and in a special way those Baptized into the life death and resurrection of Jesus as branches on a vine are invited to share and proclaim.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Situations like that do exist, I know, because that was my situation last Sunday morning. Then Sunday evening someone asked me if I would like to receive the gift of better hearing. I said yes, but if it were one or the other I would rather receive the gift of wisdom goodness and generosity than the gift of better hearing.
What is the background for my conviction that the gift of wisdom goodness and generosity is a better gift than the gift of better hearing? As you might expect, the conviction is rooted somewhere in the Bible.
First I looked up references to deafness in the Bible. As early as the book of Exodus (chapter four) we find Moses making excuses why God should get someone else to lead His people out of the slavery of Egypt. Moses claims he is handicapped in that he is "slow of speech and tongue". God sees no weight in Moses' excuse ( v. 10). "Who gives one man speech and makes another deaf and dumb? Or who gives sight and makes another blind? Is is not I, the Lord?" God takes full responsibility for who can see color and who can hear sound.
Sight and hearing are God's design. For those who hear and see, it is God's gift to them. This is true of all sight and of all hearing. They are gifts that are well designed. They are precious.
So precious are they, when God wanted to express the value and beauty of what God would do in sending a redeemer to bring His people back from sin, He inspired His prophets to use the image of healing the blind and the deaf to symbolize what would happen when those who believe would see and accept the will of the Lord and hear and understand His plan for creation and for eternity. (cf. Is. 29: 18 - 20; 35: 4,5).
Each day in our morning newspaper and each evening in our world news we see ample evidence of the fact there are many problems and much unhappiness and difficulties in our current world and in the lives of individuals near and far. God knows it all, better than we. "Who gives one man speech and makes another deaf and dumb?...Is it not I, the Lord?"
But physical deafness and physical blindness in the Bible are symbols of spiritual effects of sin. God has an answer for the problem of physical evil. We have to answer for sin. But even in the face and fact of sin God is present. In the very beginning when the first sin was made God promised to come to take it away. (Gen. 3: 15).
The promise was given again and again. It was clarified in various images of conquering physical evil as a sign of what would happen when sin was forgiven and freedom from it won. We have been using these promises in our Advent readings . ( Is 2: 1 - 5; 11: 1 - 10; 7, 10 - 14). Then at a certain moment of history all God's promises were fulfilled and given a personal name. Jesus was born. In Him all God's promises are fulfilled. He is the perfect YES to the Father's will, the perfect divine-human achievement of the Father's plan.
Jesus heals the blind and the deaf not so much so that people could hear sound and see color but that they would be touched by God and know God's power and love. The sounds and colors we see and hear are passing. The power and love of God are eternal. It takes wisdom to know this, goodness to accept it, and generoity to give it to others. That is why if I had the choice, I would rather receive the gift of wisdom goodness and generosity than the gift of better hearing.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this year may it be an occasion for us all to appreciate more clearly and deeply the identity of Jesus as the fulfillment of all God's promises, to each of us individually and to all of us throughout the world, promises of peace, justice,mercy, goodness, eternal happiness, and love. Only in Jesus are these promises perfectly fulfilled. United to Him they are fulfilled in us. That is the Father's plan. What tremendous wisdom, goodness, and generosity! It is the gift of Christmas! Come. Lord Jesus !