It seems to me that many I know are going through dark, “when it rains, it pours” periods of their lives. Diagnosis of cancer and daily struggles with side effects, job insecurity or deep-seated frustration, car accidents, mounting bills, hospice, loneliness. Struggle after struggle.
I might be a Church nerd, but I love it when all of the readings for Sunday Mass coalesce around a single theme. Usually, the first reading and the Gospel have some parallel, but it’s not often that the second reading gets in on the action too. Today is one of those lucky days!
This weekend's readings are rich with imagery and emotion and gave me some pause on my reflection. They are a reminder to trust, have faith, and a compassionate love for others.
Today's New Testament reading from Paul and the Gospel selection by Luke are very appropriate when we read the newspaper or watch the news at night. We have a terrible division in our country now, obviously disregarding Scripture. Paul makes the comparison between the body of the Church and our human bodies. In order for our human bodies to function in a healthy way, each part has to be intact. The various parts of the body are individually and collectively needed.
“They have no wine.”
I hear a question in Mary’s voice as she points out to her son, Jesus, that the wedding guests have run out of wine. It’s a question that I carry within myself, a question familiar to many of us: Will I have enough? Are we running out? Are we rich enough? Safe enough? Good enough? Will we go over budget? Mary’s statement speaks of lack.
Years ago, a friend of the family was sharing with us anecdotes of her joys as a grandmother. She laughed about the physical aches and pains that “came with the job.” When with her granddaughter, the grandmother would play and crawl around on the floor alongside her. The grandmother joked that sometimes she wasn’t sure she’d be able to get back up again. And yet, knees and back be damned, she continued to come down to the floor to play with her granddaughter because “that’s where her world is.”
Look to the margins.
If you desire to see the face of Christ in the world, look to the margins. This is one of the most important themes of the Gospel, and it has never been more necessary than at the start of 2019.
The story is told of a theologian who had a painting of the crucifixion of Jesus in his study. It showed John the Baptist with a long bony finger pointing to Jesus. One day a visitor asked, “What is your job?” The theologian walked over to the painting and said, “I am that finger.”
On this 2nd Sunday of Advent, we have John calling for repentance. I imagine if we saw John preaching today, we might be put off a bit. He wore animal skins, didn’t bathe, and existed on locus and honey. When he preached, he didn’t mince words. He was direct and to the point. In today’s reading, he is preaching “repent.” Repent from your sins. This message was being spread by him through the entire region of Judea. Michael Simone, S.J. who teaches in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College says “John’s apocalyptic preaching was popular.
O come, o come Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear!...