Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Seek and Be Quenched

By Beth DeCristofaro

The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain, their tongues are parched with thirst.  I, the LORD, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the broad valleys; I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water. (Isaiah 41:17-18)

Jesus said to the crowds: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)

It's when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind's shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word.  (“On the Mystery of the Incarnation” Denise Levertov)

John the Baptist recognized the presence of the Lord even before his birth. His vocation was to preach the coming of his cousin and he honored Jesus by advising his disciples to follow Jesus.  His words seem to foretell Jesus’ teaching to the crowds when John told his disciples:   He must increase; I must decrease.”  (John 3:30)  Although John had nothing he was not parched with thirst.  Rather he was like a fountain watering the desert as he preached and baptized.

When asked who will be the greatest in heaven, Jesus tells his disciples (Matthew 18) that they must be as humble as a little child, dependent on, trusting in, full of faith in God just as a child is to her parents.   Jesus tells us the greatest are those who thirst for God and who search.  He follows in the path of the prophets who again and again warn the powerful that they have strayed.  Indeed, Isaiah uses terms such as maggot and worm against them.  But God does not reject a people who thirst even when they have strayed from God.  Instead, God blesses profusely.

Take a break from competitive gift-giving, perfectionist decorating and world-class entertaining to consider the shuddering wonderment that God holds us so precious.  How can we gift our neighbor with a love that says:  You are cherished by the Word Incarnate?

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