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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Reflection 2020-12-04 Friday First Week of Advent – St John Damascene

Isaiah 29:17-24; Psalm 27; Matthew 9:27-31
The First Reading speaks of the day when the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll ... the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. This looks forward to healing. It also looks forward to justice being done and lastly, the return of the people to God: for when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. And those who err in spirit will come to understand, and those who grumble will accept instruction. The coming of the Messiah will bring healing, justice and awe of God.
The Gospel shows Jesus healing two blind men who called to him. His question is interesting: Do you believe I am able to do this? They answered: yes, Lord. Why did Jesus have to ask them if they believe he can do it. It is obvious that they do because they were calling him. Faith needs to be expressed. Jesus wanted them to say they believe so people will know it is Jesus who healed them. The response of Jesus confirms this: According to your faith let it be done to you.
There is no such thing as a private faith. If we believe, we need to make that visible, because faith without action is dead. The First Reading says when Jacob sees his children they will sanctify the name of God. This act of sanctifying the name of God is the visible act of their faith. When we say we repent of our sins, it is not enough to say so. We need to make that repentance visible. The First Reading says, those who err in spirit will come to understand, and those who grumble will accept instruction. Repentance has to be seen in obedience to the Word of God. Otherwise, it is not repentance at all.
As we prepare for the coming of Christ, we make visible this waiting for the Lord. The Psalm expresses confidence: the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? The psalmist continues that he desires to live in the house of the Lord, to behold his beauty and inquire in his temple. This is how the Psalmist plans to make visible his faith: to go to the Temple, to look at the beauty of the Lord. Our waiting must be expressed in action. How can we express our waiting for the Lord? The Psalm tells us: wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord. To wait for the Lord is to be still, discern how the Lord wants to handle our situation. Sometimes, or often times, doing nothing, sitting and discerning the Lord’s will is all we need to make visible our trust in God.
John Damascene lived in the seventh to the eighth centuries. He was born in Damascus and became Patriarch of Jerusalem. Because he defended the veneration of icons, he was called a traitor, a wronger of Jesus Christ, bad interpreter of Scriptures. Despite these false accusations, John Damascene made visible his faith by defending the true teaching of the Church and compiling writings of great Greek writers and councils which were later used by future generations. Shortly after his death, the Seventh General Council of Nicea reversed the accusations against him. We will be falsely accused and cursed, but in the end, God will vindicate the innocent.
What is your situation now? Are you affected by the pandemic, financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually? In all these, we wait in trust for the coming of the Lord. To make visible this trust, we sit and discern what the Lord wants from us. We go to the house of the Lord, to behold the beauty of the Lord, to inquire in his temple. The Lord will come and with it, he will bring his salvation.
Lord, I wait for your coming which will bring healing, justice and repentance for the glory of your name. Let me be strong and take courage. Let me wait for you to move, and when you do, may I respond in trust. Jesus, I trust in you.

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