Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rejoicing and Happiness

March 23, 2009

Monday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind. Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create; For I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight. Isaiah 65:17-18

The royal official said to him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." Jesus said to him, "You may go; your son will live." The man believed what Jesus said to him and left. While he was on his way back, his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live. John 4:49-51


Lord our God, almighty Father, you want us not to turn to the past to regret it and to mourn over it but to hope in the future, in the new earth and the new heaven. Give us a firm faith in your Son Jesus Christ, that notwithstanding the shortcomings of our time we may have faith in the future, which you want us to build up with your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (From the Carmelites web site)


Sometimes, Jesus uses outward signs to make his miracles happen. Or perhaps to make us think he needs such props. Today, we see Jesus Unplugged. There is no mud to splash on the eyes of the blind man. There are no jugs of water to turn into wine. There is no command to the demons to depart or to the deaf ears to be opened. In fact, Jesus performs this miracle long distance after he seemed to be refusing to perform another sign. In fact, Jesus challenged the official to profess his faith and to live it.

Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” At first, it appears that Jesus may refuse to heal the son. But then the royal official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Time matters not. Distance matters less. Touching did not matter. Words did not matter. Belief – like that of the royal official – is all we need to connect to Jesus. Then, Jesus willingly connects to us. The Carmelites reflection for today points out this demand for faith.

Both in the first as well as in the second response, Jesus asks for faith, much faith. He asks that the official believes that his son has already been cured. And the true miracle takes place! Without seeing any sign, nor any portent, the man believes in Jesus’ word and returns home. It should not have been easy. This is the true miracle of faith; to believe without any other guarantee, except the Word of Jesus. The ideal is to believe in the word of Jesus, even without seeing.

The key words here: “The man believed.” Then, the words of Isaiah 65:24 are fulfilled: “Before they call, I will answer; while they are yet speaking, I will hearken to them.”

Jesus challenges us to profess our faith and live it. Listen to the words of Isaiah…Jesus will not discard us…in fact he is right here. Shouting and waving his hands. He is ready to respond to those who do not even ask him. He wants to be found by those who do not seek him.

So to get our attention, Jesus stands before us shouting: “Here I am! Here I am!” To a nation that does not call upon His name, he stretched out his hands.


If Jesus is willing to create for us a new heaven and earth when we seem indifferent to him, how much more will he respond to our belief when we turn to him in faith like the royal official?

How do you respond to God’s word? Do you look for outward signs or do you believe because everything God creates brings happiness and rejoicing?

In addition, Jesus shows today how the church extends her hands to foreigners and strangers. Who among us is not from a family that moved to this nation from a foreign land within that last few generations?

Italy. Germany. Poland. France. England. Ghana. Belgium. Haiti. India. Japan. China. Colombia. Philippines. Guatemala. Boston. The list goes on and on. People around us come from all different lands. Jesus responds to their requests. He does not ask for citizenship. He does not ask for a Visa. He does not even ask for a driver’s license or voter ID card. Are we as willing to connect with the strangers in our land?

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