Friday, December 02, 2016

This is the Way

The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst. No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, while from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:20-21

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Matthew 10:5-8

The Lord will give us rain for the seeds of heaven that we sow in the ground, And the wheat that the soil produces will be rich and abundant. On that day, our flock will be given pasture and the lamb will graze in spacious meadows; The farmers and their hands and equipment that till the ground will eat food that gives them strength to grow our corn, pick our coffee, cure our beef, and clean our apples. 

Upon every high mountain and lofty hill, there will be streams of running water. We do not thirst as it pours forth from our kitchen taps and the bottles lining our shelves. No matter the troubles that the present and future hold, the light of the moon will be like that of the sun and the light of the sun will be seven times greater like the light of seven days. On that day, the LORD binds up our wounds.  The Lord will heal the bruises left by the slings of fortune.

In today’s readings, we have Jesus pushing and pulling us to do his work.  Isaiah gives us the image of a merciful and helping God who is there to direct our every step.  “This is the way; walk in it.” Once we get going, Jesus steps out of the way and lets us carry on without him. The shepherd sends us out to find his lost sheep.  For each lost sheep who is served, another brick is laid in the walls of the Kingdom of heaven. 

We have been reading these same passages year-after-liturgical year.  Some of us have been studying our whole adult life.  Thirty years.  Forty years.  Fifty years.  More?  Each cycle, the readings are the same.  Maybe you pick up a slightly different translation of the Bible.  New American?  Revised Standard?  New Jerusalem?  What differs? 

We are different.  Our experiences in 2016 are different from 2006…from 1996…from 1986…. from 1976... from 1966.  Think back.  How would the instructions issued today would be different in your life ten years ago? Imagine what they will mean to you ten years from now. In 2026? In 2036?

Ten years ago, our children were still in college.  We were wondering how the bills would be paid.  This is the way.  Our families were younger, healthier.  More were still with us. Walk in it.  Ten years from now, we will be older.  Retirement will be upon us with new challenges.  This is the way.  Our families will be older still.  Fewer will still be with us.  Walk in it.

Maybe we will be the lost sheep that someone is coming to cure, raise, cleanse or drive out.  Maybe we will be the instructed.  Dropping whatever pre-occupied us to fulfill the command, brick-by-heavy brick. The.  Kingdom. Of. Heaven. Is. At. Hand. Wait for it.  This is the way.  Walk in it.

How are you preparing for the coming of the Lord—both at Christmas and in the
NASA Apollo VIII - Earthrise
"Our Common Home" 
years ahead in your life? How can you prepare yourself to be a missionary disciple who helps others encounter Christ? Isaiah promises that the Lord will send a teacher.  Think about the image and presence of your favorite school teachers.  They were not hiding.  They stood before us and those green blackboards.  For me, that brings forth the memory of Mrs. Hicks – from second and fourth grade at the Harmony School in New Monmouth, New Jersey.  And Frank Mellaci, from Thorne Junior High School, the science teacher who opened my eyes to the need for greater stewardship of “OUR COMMON HOME.”  And Dr. George Herndl and Dr. Russ Fowler and Brother Paul Shanley at Belmont Abbey College, connecting works of literature and the inherent themes of conflict and characters to our everyday modern lives.

These teachers and so many other teachers of mine and yours were and are visible and tangible. Today, Isaiah promises that God will send us a teacher to do the same right before our eyes. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, God taught through his prophets. But the promise of Advent is that we will have a way to more clearly and directly learn from God. 

What are you doing to be the teacher of today, the laborer of the presence? You and I are here to solve, to teach, to heal and to help the people of today. We are not called to wait for some distant far-off promise of the coming of Heaven, but instead, are called to aid the people in the Kingdom today who are calling out for our help in the here and now. Close in time.  Close in space. Help them find the way.  Help them walk in it. 

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