“Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him.”
December 10, 2018
Is 35:1-10; Ps 85:9-14; Lk 5:17-26
It is our God who comes to save us! Not an angel, not some superman, not some wizard, it is our God who comes to save us. This responsorial to the first reading proclaims a mystery so great that it is still difficult for us to hear. This mystery of faith we join together and proclaim at every Sunday Liturgy in the Creed from the Council of Nicaea. “We believe in Jesus Christ, the ONLY Son of God, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God. Begotten, not made, one in being with the Father.” It is not easy for us, who so readily demean ourselves and find it so difficult to love ourselves; it is not easy for us to believe that it is God who comes to save us. This God of ours proclaims peace to his people—to Israel and to the New Israel. His salvation is for all who fear him, who are constantly struck with awe and wonder that his glory dwells in our land. Indeed, human emotions and human reason come together in gentle harmony, and real justice kisses true peace, in the entire world there is true harmony among rival nations and peoples. The truth of Immanuel, God with us, springs from the womb of a Virgin Mother and God’s own Kingdom comes down from on high. The LORD himself provides for all great blessings, a land that is fruitful and a world where justice is expected and found. As he walks among us we know salvation, all along the way of his steps. Even as the Lord Jesus walks to Mount Calvary, He fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah when He says to those who meet him, “be strong and fear not.” In today’s gospel it is the Pharisees and teachers of the law who express the doubts and fears of the official interpenetration of the Torah by saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Such is the wonderful irony of Saint Luke; little do they know what they are saying. Yet, after this Eucharist how many of us will go home glorifying God?
Who does not want sorrow and mourning to flee? Who does not want to see the glory of the LORD and the splendor of our God? Only those who do not want to give up their own power and glory. Only those who would have no more joy and gladness when comes the King and His Kingdom. Those, who are parched and lifeless like a desert, live from day to day with great longing for living waters. Do you know anyone like this? Those, who struggle through the day with feeble hands and week knees, wait eagerly for the strength from on high. Have you ever met such people? Those, who have hearts that are frightened, strive to trust in the coming of the LORD. Is there anyone like that in your neighborhood? It is the blind, the deaf, the lame, and the mute who can’t wait for God to come with vindication, with divine recompense, with salvation. If you are self-satisfied, self-fulfilled, self-made then you do not need anyone to vindicate you. As such you will not wait for anyone to save you, you will not be watching with eagerness for anyone, and no one will come to you. For the rest who do long for salvation, the prophet Isaiah still proclaims good news. “Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.”
As Saint Luke constantly points out, the Lord Jesus had real enemies during his public ministry, and we know they have not diminished even after his death and resurrection. The Pharisees and teachers of the law watched and waited for him to violate some principle or even some letter of the law so that he might be discredited with the crowds who followed him. During a day of teaching and healing the Lord Jesus was quite surprised and greatly delighted in the faith of some in the crowd even while others had no faith in him. When they made a hole in the roof tile and lowered their paralyzed friend on a stretcher, the Lord Jesus praised their faith. Then he spoke to the afflicted man saying, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” These words flowed from his divine compassion; the Lord Jesus could see not only the physical infirmity, but He could see the deeper spiritual paralysis of sin. The Lord Jesus continued to read the truth of the situation, and He could hear the paralysis of the Pharisees and scribes. They were sick of heart and could not hear the good news that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. This was too much for them to bear, and already we hear from them “blasphemy” an accusation that would fill the air as they brought him to trial before turning him over to their enemies, the Roman authorities. The friends of the paralyzed man had an active, aggressive, faith in the Lord Jesus. They expected him to heal and save. Do we have such expectation in this Advent Season? Do we wait eagerly in prayer for the Lord Jesus to heal our friends and even our enemies? If this is our faith, then this Christmas will abound with joy and gladness. We will be seized by astonishment and glorify God saying, “we have seen incredible things today.”