Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Always Seeking Renewal and Restoration

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church

December 14, 2011

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above, like gentle rain let the skies drop it down. Let the earth open and salvation bud forth; let justice also spring up! I, the Lord have created this… To me every knee shall bend; by me every tongue shall swear, Saying, “Only in the Lord are just deeds and power.” (Isaiah 45: 8, 23b-24a)

Love and truth will meet;
justice and peace will kiss.
Truth will spring from the earth,
justice will look down from heaven. (Psalm 85:11-12)

At that time, John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”… And Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard; the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” (Luke 7:18b-19, 22)

The Lord’s kindness is forever, toward the faithful from age to age. (Psalm 103:17a)

I don’t understand how anyone could seriously be a deist. Just look at our Scripture readings for today. God did not create the universe and all that is in it just to sit back and take a laissez-faire attitude toward his handiwork. God is always involved in our lives. God has always been involved in the lives of his people. God is always seeking to save us, renew us and restore our lives to wholeness.

In our reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, God declares that he has chosen King Cyrus of Persia to deliver God’s people from their long exile in Babylon. This Persian non-believer is God’s chosen instrument of salvation. Justice will descend like dew when God’s people are freed. The gentle rain of justice will open the earth and allow salvation to bud forth. God has heard his people’s cries and acted to restore them to freedom, to make them whole once again.

In the verses preceding those in today’s reading from Psalm 85, the Israelites recall a time in their past when God has acted to restore their community. Now they find themselves in yet another time of crisis. Again, they pray for renewal. And once again the Lord promises salvation, a time when love and truth will meet and justice and peace will kiss. Such beautiful imagery to describe what happens when God restores us to wholeness.

In today’s reading from Luke’s gospel, we see Jesus actively restoring people to wholeness. In answer to John the Baptist’s disciples’ question about whether Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus points to what he is doing. He restores sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf. The lame are given the power to walk. Lepers are cured of their disease. The poor are given hope. Even the dead are raised, says Jesus.

During Advent, we prepare ourselves for God’s participation in our lives on several levels. We remember God’s sending his Son into our world to become one of us. We prepare for Christmas, for our celebration of God’s coming to us as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. We prepare for Christ’s final coming in glory. And we acknowledge the countless ways God comes into our lives every single day.

Today, when you are praying, follow the example of our ancestors in faith. Lay before the Lord the broken places in your life. Don’t leave anything hidden. Pray for the Lord to renew your spirit and to restore you to wholeness. God always responds to the cries of his people.