God Among Us
December 14, 2016 (readings)
Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church
Father Shawn Aaron, LC
At that time, John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" When the men came to the Lord, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" At that time Jesus cured many people of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; he also granted sight to many who were blind. And Jesus said to them in reply, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are always present to me in my waking and in my sleeping, but I am not always present to you. Forgive my inattentiveness to you, Jesus, my Creator and Redeemer. Thank you for the gifts of life, my faith in you, my family and the many other gifts you have granted me. I wish you to be the center of my life despite the countless times I put myself first. I love you and long to draw nearer to you in my prayers and actions.
Petition: Jesus, help me to discover your loving hand in my daily life.
1. Are We to Wait for Another? “He came to his own, and his own people did not accept him” (John 1:11). This is perhaps one of the saddest phrases in scripture. The “Desired of Nations” came to those who should have desired him most but they did not recognize him. Yet, if we are not careful, this can occur on a daily basis in our own lives. In our desire to make spiritual progress we might be turning a deaf ear to the voice of conscience and the lights of the Holy Spirit because we are looking for “bigger, more spectacular” opportunities to love God. We are caught looking for “something else” while he is coming to us in the most ordinary circumstances of loving my spouse, children, parents or peers.
2. Go and Tell John What You Have Seen and Heard: Jesus appeals to reason in order to elicit a deeper response of faith. To summarize his message for John: “You will know a tree by its fruit”. John has already heard of the works of Christ. So, why does Jesus re-emphasize what John already knows? Precisely because we do not always know how to discover the works of God in our daily lives at first glance. It is as if to say, “Open your eyes and your ears to learn the ways of God. I am constantly at work in your life, discover my action, hear my voice, and you will come to see my plan for you.”
3. And Blessed Is the One Who Takes No Offense at Me: Remember, this statement is directed to the “greatest man born of woman.” Therefore it must not frighten us that the paths God chooses are sometimes quite mysterious to us. Israel needed John’s testimony, yet he spends his last days in prison, hidden from the public eye. “What a waste of much needed talent!” – this is the cry of reason unaided by faith. Doesn’t God understand how important John is to the equation? Doesn’t he know that we need good leaders in society and in the Church? Doesn’t he know that my husband, my wife, or my child is too young to die? Doesn’t he know…? It is a subtle temptation to question whether God actually cares about justice in our daily lives or whether his plan is truly the best option. Satan loves leading us down this labyrinthine path. But faith enables us to cling to the truth that God is indeed all-powerful and all-loving. Faith gives us an enlightened vision to find the way and travel it safely. Am I always able to count my blessings no matter what happens in my life?
Conversation with Christ: Lord I believe in you because you are always faithful to your promises. You never promised that life would be easy but you did promise that you would give me the grace to carry the cross you ask me to bear. Sometimes I simply do not want to carry it. Help me to bear it generously with faith and love. Mother Most Pure, make my heart only for Jesus.
Resolution: Today I will visit the Blessed Sacrament and recite the creed. If I cannot make it to visit our Lord, then I will present myself to him in the quiet of my heart and recite the same.