A Cycle – 4th Sunday of Advent 22

A Cycle – 4th Sunday of Advent 22

Mt.1:18-24

Does God give us visible and discernable signs that reveal to us our prayers are heard, direction is given, or sins are forgiven and forgotten?  There is not doubt we seek signs, or we desire some indication God is with us and he will fulfill his promises to us.  But how many times have we heard people say, “the answer is no,” or God is silent.  Is silence and answer?  Not in my world, if I pray and listen because I do believe God when he says he knows our thoughts before we utter them. Why would he tell us that if he did not intend to respond.   

Last week we heard in the gospel about John the Baptist in prison asking Jesus if he “…was the one or should he look for another.”  Interesting isn’t it, John who leapt in his mother’s womb as Mary approached with Jesus in her womb. He knew Jesus then and he spent his life preparing the way and calling people to repent because salvation was at hand.  John, who was hesitant to baptize Jesus because of who he was and later says, “he did not recognize him” (Jn. 1:33. But at that moment God told him the one upon whom he would see the Spirit descend upon as a dove would be the one who would baptize in the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 1:33).  Doubts, questions, and answers are part of the Christian journey. 

After the day John baptized Jesus, he boldly proclaims Jesus as the Son of God (Jn. 1:34).  Doubts, questions, and answers are important for us to do what John did and that is to proclaim Jesus as our savior. 

John spent his life following God’s plan for his life and was given a sign to confirm it but at a critical time when he knew death was imminent, John had doubts.  Our humanity is a weakness we strive to overcome and even when we are confident in our faith something will always make us wonder if we got it right.  Satan loves this fatal flaw in us and exploits it to the fullest.  The real question for us is do we believe it even when God is silent, even when we are racked with pain and desperately need God to be present to us.

“I will never abandon you nor forsake you for you are constantly before me” (Is.49:15-16).  Does that sound like he is not with us?  Has our humanity which experiences failure and abandonment from those who profess to love us tainted us, so we do not trust God. “I know when you stand or sit.”  “…(God) you understand my thoughts: you scrutinize my path: even before there is a word on my tongue you know it: you know it all: where can I go from your presence” (verses from Ps.139).  Does that sound like God is not aware of anything or ignoring us?    Perhaps we have failed to understand how our own human nature fights against us trusting in God’s presence with us or how he responds to us. We want some indication, some signs to confirm we are on the right track.  At the same time, we fail to recognize the signs when they are given to us. 

When things are going well in our life, we have no need to have God confirm he is with us.  John’s contact with Jesus seems to be minimal after that encounter between Elizabeth and Mary.  John and Jesus grew up in different towns and we do not know when John’s ministry began but we know it was before Jesus began his ministry.  John had his sign, the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus. In fact, days after Jesus’s baptism, John standing with two of his disciples sees Jesus passing by and John tells them “Behold the Lamb of God.”  One of those two disciples was Andrew, and he leaves John and approaches Jesus wanting to know “where he was staying” (John 1:38).  Jesus responds by saying to Andrew, “come and see.” 

Interesting choice of words between Andrew and Jesus.  Where are you staying?  There is that question we want to know, “where is God” when I need him.  Do you come and go, or are always with me?  What sign can you give me that helps my unbelief that you will supply all I need to believe or be whole?  

Come and see, is the answer. Dare to come and do like Mary of Bethany and sit at my feet and listen to me.  You want a sign, look at the crucifix and you will see the sign of God’s love for you. 

Jesus tells John’s disciples, to look at the signs, the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the broken hearted are healed.  These miracles are happening every day as ordinary men and women seek God’s healing power.  Perhaps the first miracle we experience is to have our eyes opened to see God at work in our lives or our ears opened to hear his voice inviting us to let him come into our hearts.  Perhaps we need to stop trying to please God and begin to experience God’s presence.  What I have learned from my own journey is God requires us to take a step into the unknown and trust God. Peter was invited to step out of the boat and walk toward me. Talk about a leap of faith.  We are invited to believe and trust not doubt and wonder. 

The amazing thing is God does want to give us a sign he is with us.  We have a symbol of that sign in Jesus, the baby in the manger, Jesus the Son of God whose words fill the scriptures and Jesus the crucified Christ who made it possible for us to be embraced by God. But more than symbols we have the daily presence of the Spirit who Jesus said he would send us to remind us of everything Jesus ever did and said.  We have Emmanuel, God with us.  

1 thought on “A Cycle – 4th Sunday of Advent 22

  1. Great Sunday… Amazing as always..

    I believe my biggest take away here today is the line that the Dcn wrote where it refers to stop trying to please God and embrace his presence. This is a true challenge for me and something I need desperately to work on

    And so I will…

    Merry Christmas to all!

    Like

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