Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Are You the One?

I form the light, and create the darkness,
I make well-being and create woe;
I, the LORD, do all these things.
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.
Isaiah 45:7-8

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.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” 
Luke 7:22-23

And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus sets down the “Nazareth manifesto.”  From the scrolls of Isaiah, he reports the program of corporal works of mercy which he will undertake for his sisters and brothers.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

From the sanctuary, Jesus takes to the streets curing, healing, teaching and preaching.  With that as the backdrop, chapter 7 (today’s Gospel) is like the State of the Union message. Jesus sends followers back to John so that John will know that the tree he planted is bearing fruit. Before Jesus sends the disciples out into the world to preach the good news to Jew and Gentile, first they report the Good News to John.  With this report, John would immediately know the answer to the question that the people sought:  ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’

Are you the one?  There is no other.  John knows that.  However, despite the signs, everyone else is not so fast to learn.  We have already seen and heard how the Pharisees and others doubted and tested Jesus.  Some took offense at Jesus.  Not John. John knew from the moment he leapt in the womb of his mother. 

Pope Francis has told us to make this a year of mercy – that is how we will make 2016 a year acceptable to the Lord. Mercy is both a state of mind and an action. The origin of the word is curious.  It comes from the Medieval Latin merced-, that means price paid or wages, and is also the root word for merchandise.  So, perhaps the price we pay for being a Christian is a duty to offer mercy to others.  The wages we earn as a Christian also is paid in mercy offered to us from God and from others.  If our church was a store, the merchandise on the shelves would be mercy. Corporal Works of Mercy.  Spiritual Works of Mercy. 

Who can take offense at the mercy offered by Jesus in curing the blind, the lame, the lepers, and the deaf?

Where will you encounter Jesus today?  Will you ask, “Are you the one?”  Or will you know Jesus by his works of mercy?  Will others encounter Jesus manifest in your works of mercy?  Will they ask, “Are you the one?”  No.  But He sent you to carry on and pay those wages of Christianity forward.

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