Thursday, December 11, 2014

“The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie.” - "One word of truth outweighs the world.”

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed but I am bound to live the best life that I have. - Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) 16th President of the United States

Gospel Text: (MT 11:11-15)
Jesus said to the crowds:
“Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent are taking it by force.
All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.
And if you are willing to accept it,
he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

If a world-famous violinist were performing in a train station, would you notice? This happened in January of 2007, when the internationally acclaimed virtuoso, Joshua Bell, dressed in everyday street clothes and played his $3.5 million violin in a subway station in Washington, DC. He played for forty-five minutes while hundreds of people walked past without even pausing. Only two people stopped to listen.

On that day, Joshua Bell, who usually commands a salary of more than a thousand dollars a minute, made a total of thirty-two dollars in tips.

Sometimes, people just can’t see the importance of a “common” person or a miracle that is unfolding before their eyes. This is especially true in today’s readings about Jesus and John the Baptist.

Matthew chapter 11 introduces that section in the Gospel that reports how different people respond to Jesus. Some believe he is the messiah. But most have a difficult time recognizing and accepting him. Some think he is a powerful prophet. Still others reject him. Then there are those who oppose Jesus, accusing him of being in league with Satan.

Jesus gradually begins to reveal who he is, indirectly, by revealing who John the Baptist is. And who is John? He stands with the greatest, yet he is the least in the kingdom of heaven. He straddles the boundaries of the old and the new. John has one foot in the time of preparation. And he has the other foot in the kingdom. He will be the first to suffer the violence directed at the kingdom.

But let's be honest. John isn't the most pleasant person to be with. He has a rough, disheveled appearance with his wild hair blowing in the wind, his scraggly beard littered with his last meal, grasshopper crumbs. And that camel hair he wears smells rather gamey, to say the least. John is strange, austere, and prickly as cactus. Would anyone want to invite him to their Christmas dinner? Would anyone want him standing next to the eggnog?

And yet, God chose John as his messenger to announce the coming of the messiah, to shock us into paying attention when we'd rather look the other way. But if we refuse to accept him, we may fail to recognize the one he is pointing to. Advent is the time of waiting in anticipation, in preparation so that we will recognize and welcome the messiah into our lives

Sometimes, especially during a season like Advent, we can fall into the trap of looking for a dramatic spiritual experience that will overwhelm us and magically transform our lives. We look for a Hollywood moment to heal our family’s disputes or show us the way through a tough situation. But when we do this, we forget that God is already with us, humbly working quiet miracles right before our eyes. We forget that he didn’t come to make our lives easier but to make us holier.

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