. . . 3rd Sunday in Advent

Isaiah 35: 1-6a, 10; Psalm 146: 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10; James 5: 7-10; Matt 11: 2-11

By Cosmas Okechukwu Ebebe

1. Invitation:
Today, the Letter of Saint James says,“Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold the judge is standing at the doors” (James 5:9). The door is the door of our hearts. It is up to us to open the doors to him who is to come “to judge the living and the dead.” It is necessary to know that the person we are preparing to welcome has power and can call the dead back to life.

2. God’s Message of Love in the Readings Today
There was this story told of an artist called Hobman Hunt. He was a very renowned artist. He painted the famous image of Jesus the good shepherd where Jesus carrieda lamb on his shoulders and was knocking at a door. An arts critic visited his studio and studied the extra-ordinary good paintings of the Hobman. He noticed that the door at which Jesus was knocking had no lash or external handle for entering. Confident about his finding of a mistake on the work of so great an artist, he approached the artist.Hobman Hunt explained that what he depicted in the picture was the door of the human heart. He told his critic that “such doors only open from inside”. The door of the human heart only opens from inside and needs no handle on the outside. Such message is coming to us today.

When the disciples of John came to Jesus, they asked their question as sent: “Are you the one who is to come or shall we look for another?” Jesusdid not spoon feed them. He left them to access the situation andtake decisions. He coached them to open the doors of their hearts to the good news of salvation. He did not open that door for them from outside. By his answer, he gave them opportunity to decide who he was. He said to them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (Matt 11: 3). The best feedback on love is action not words. Doors of human hearts are opened by what people do more than all the keys stacked together in a bunch of spoken words. Love in service is door opener. What a day it shall be when people around us describe us by the genuine charitable works that we do to the needy and downtrodden for God’s sake.

When Isaiah says, “the wilderness and dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom, like the lily it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing,”(Isaiah 35: 1) he anticipates the abundant goodness in the reign of Christ. And the time is now, “when the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and singing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10). We are instruments in the hands of God who shall make God’s words come to fruition. Depending on our individual circumstances, someone may be looking up to us for some gifts or benefice. And everyone has something to give the other. When one thinks that there is nothing tangible to offer, one can always offer a smile. The most discouraging thing in attempting to build bridge of human relations is when one person does not as much as countenance the presence of the other who could be seen and talked with. Emotionally damaging is the posture of an otherwise neighbour who does not want to see his/her neighbour even of necessity.

Preparations for Christmas is just like preparations for acquisition of an enduring value which calls for patience. The good seeds we sow in the present time would not germinate, grow, fruit and mature in hours. The kindness we show to our neighbour will yield fruit in the recipient with time. St. James gives the analogy of the farmer who “waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient until it receives the early and late rain” (James 5: 7). James goes further to admonish us, “Do not grumble, brethren. against one another, that you may not be judged; behold the judge is standing at the door” (5: 9). Grumbling is a common thing among mortals. It might come when a person feels that he is not appreciated as should.

Grumbling can come from an individual who feels he is looked down upon. It can happen when a person feels neglected in any form or setting. It comes when the human ego is not massaged or when our pride is smacked in public or in private, etc. Grumbling can be occasioned by so many things. One remote preparation will be to take control of our pride and senses that they do not lead us into grumbling which may mature into audacious murmuring.
Over and above everything else we must keep trusting in the Lord. It is the Lord who preserves fidelity forever. He does justice to the oppressed, it is he who gives bread to the hungry, the Lord who sets prisoners free. We shall indeed be free if the Lord sets us free and we must trust the God of our salvation.

3. TakeHome: Trust Is Total Surrender
A person started to walk on a rope tied between two tall towers. He was slowly walking balancing a long stick in his hands. He has his son sitting on his shoulders. Everyone from the ground were watching him in bated breath and were very tensed. When he slowly reached the second tower everyone clapped, whistled and welcomed him. They shook hands and took selfies. He asked the crowd “do you all think I can walk back on the same rope now from this side to that side? Crowd shouted in one voice: “Yes, Yes, you can!” Do you trust me, he asked? They said: “yes, yes. We are ready to bet on you!” He said okay, can any one of you sit on my shoulder; I will take you to the other side safely. There were stunned silence. Everyone became quiet. Belief is different. Trust is different. For trust, you need total surrender. Sometimes we say we believe in God. But do we trust Him?

(Source: WhatsApp forwarding)