Friday of the First Week of Advent

Is 29:17-24; Ps 27:1,4,13,14; Mt 9:27-31:  The Lord our God comes with power, with the power of a shepherd, a good shepherd.  It is not easy for us to relate to this image from the scripture and from another time and culture.  A good shepherd is one who does not abandon the sheep; indeed, he stays to guard and defend, and he even goes out in careful search for the lost among his sheep.  It is the claim of the LORD himself that he would be the good shepherd of his sheep. Our holy bishops throughout history have been good shepherds famous teacher in the Church.  They did not abandon the call even though it meant daily conflict and constant challenge. With the Lord as our refuge we join all the saints to live without fear.  Indeed, with them we seek to dwell in the Lord’s own house so that we, too, may gaze upon his loveliness and contemplate his glory.  Such is the bounty we expect to receive in the land of the living. So, with courage we learn how to wait in Advent Joy for the coming of the One whose very person unites humanity and divinity.  We are stouthearted; we wait for Immanuel, the one who has already come and who is the one yet to come.  The Prophet Isaiah uses impossible images from nature to draw a word icon of the wonderful new creation that is coming in the Advent of Our God, Christ the Lord. The Lord Jesus proclaims that only to the childlike will the Holy Spirit give the faith to see the true image of God in Christ Jesus, the one whom age upon age of prophets and kings longed to see. May this Advent open the childlike eyes of our faith in awe and wonder before the mystery of God’s Coming.

Just like in the days of Isaiah, so too, at the time every time in the history of the church tyrants abounded; they were powerful men and woman, full of arrogance.  Such is the power of the prophet Isaiah and the saints of our church.  It is just such power that the world needs today.  Many who are deaf long to hear the word of the Gospel.  Those who are blind are still longing to be brought out of the gloom and darkness of sin and ignorance.  Those who err in spirit still need to acquire understanding and those who find fault still need to receive instruction.  Where are the prophets and preachers of the past?  Who among us will keep his name holy?  Who among us will reverence the Holy One of Isaiah and live in awe of the God of the prophets?  Indeed, the Lord God himself responds to such questioning, “But a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest!”  Soon and very soon, truly prophetic bishops and holy theologians, even among the laity, will arise among us.  Such is the promise of the Lord Our God.

Why did the Lord Jesus make such a demand of the two blind men who had just been healed?  Why didn’t he want them to advertise his power? Perhaps the Lord did not want to feed any false notions of his power and purpose among us.  Perhaps he did not want the crowds to think for one moment that he came to display his glory and flaunt his majesty.  The Lord Jesus came from the Father to reveal the true nature of God, which is seen upon the cross.  God is humble.  There is no one more humble than the Lord Our God.  The divine humility of the Father is seen in the divine humiliation of the Son upon the cross.  The Lord Jesus does not want the crowd to admire him or to seek him out for more displays of power.  The Lord Jesus wants to encounter faith on the earth.  This is the kind of faith that Jesus seeks: the faith that gave the blind men the grace to see him as their savior and to ask for his healing. In these dark days of Advent we too hear the Lord Jesus ask us, “Do you believe that I can do this?”  Do we believe that the Lord Jesus can heal us, save us, grow us, into holiness?  Can we reveal the power of the prophets and the courage of the saints?  Is this the Advent gift that the Lord wants to give the world through us?