1 Jn 3:22–4:6; Ps 2:7bc-8, 10-12a; Mt 4:12-17, 23-25
At another place in the psalms we pray, “Hold not back; Oh Lord, hold not back!” The Father does not hesitate to respond to his Son, the Lord Jesus. He does not hold back anything from The Only Begotten Son. In today’s psalm the LORD promises to give Christ the nations for an inheritance and the ends of the earth of his possession. The unspeakably generous Father gives his Son whatever he asks. The Father knows his Eternal Son and does not hesitate to give him whatever he may request. The Father knows that his Son can receive with respect and honor the gift of the nations and the ends of the earth as well. None of the kings of the earth have the kind of heart, open and compassionate, necessary to rule over all the earth. The Lord Jesus alone can serve with fear, and he rejoices before the Father in wonder and awe, with trembling and fear. This he can do through us the members of his Body. As the first letter of Saint John teaches we belong to God and anyone who hears us hears God. Indeed it is through our witness of gospel love that everyone is attracted to the Lord Jesus and his Kingdom. The gospel of Saint Matthew reveals that it was the teaching and miracles of the Lord Jesus that attracted his initial followers. How are we to attract new members of the Body of Christ? What are our teachings and where are our miracles?
The Father gives to his son whatever he asks. Saint John tells us that we receive from the Son whatever we ask because we keep his commandments and do what is pleasing. Perhaps this is the problem with our less than bright witness of teaching and miracles. Perhaps we have left behind the most important teaching about how we know that we remain in him. Perhaps we need to keep his commandments and live in his Spirit. Oftentimes the simplest solution is ignored because it is too simple. We wrongly think that if it’s that simple it can’t be correct. Only complicated and difficult tasks can be productive. Such is our confusion and stubbornness. Such is the message of the antichrist. He abounds in the deadly attitudes and instructions of the world all around us. However, if we belong to God we have within us one who is greater than any antichrist. Let the world listen and enjoy the teachings of the antichrist. This world refuses to listen to God and to his servants. When we observe such a stubborn response, we can distinguish between those who follow the lie and those who follow the truth. Only, we must be very careful that we are not the ones who are stubborn and hard of heart.
Look what happens in the land overshadowed by death, the land of gloom. Look what happens when the Light from Light dawns upon them. Those who sit in darkness stand to welcome the Great Light who comes to abide with them to teach in their synagogues and cure every illness. The Lord Jesus comes in fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah. Perhaps that’s why our Advent and Christmas seasons are filled with that prophet’s preaching. In order for us to know the Lord in his coming, we need to hear all the ancient expectations about him. But do we share those expectations, those advent dreams, and those persistent hopes? Do we expect the Body of Christ, the Church, to continue his mission and ministry among us who are often overshadowed by death and keep company with gloom? The Lord spends time with the gloomy ones, the possessed, the lunatics, and the paralytics. He cured them all. The Lord comes to us in word and sacrament and he lingers with us in prayer and meditation. Is his light not as bright? Is his love not as powerful? Come, linger in the Light; no longer sit in darkness. Stand up! Arise and welcome Him of whom you have heard so much. Do not fear to trust the Lord Jesus, who chose to spend time among those in the greatest darkness and gloom. Today, he chooses to linger with us.