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Monday, second week of Advent

December 10, 2007

Blessed Monday!

Readings:
Isaiah 35:1-10 (God will make even the wilderness safe and beautiful for our journey to Him)
Psalm 85:9-14 “Our God will come to save us!”
+ Luke 5:17-26 (Jesus forgives & heals the paralytic who was lowered through the roof)

“A highway will be there, called the holy way…it is for those with a journey to make”
-Isaiah 35:8, 9

When you have a journey to make, it really helps if you can walk. It’s also nice to be able to see where you’re going, hear directions, and speak with those you meet on the way. God promises us healing in all these areas, and demonstrates His power to deliver on these promises when a paralyzed man is lowered through the roof in front of Him. Jesus heals the man and sends him on a journey of his own: “I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home” (Luke 5:24).

Home. This is journey’s-end for all of us. The place where we live now is just the barest foretaste of the eternal Home Jesus is preparing for us. “I am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then I shall come back to take you with Me, that where I am you also may be” (John 14:3). We journey to Heaven. We are poor, crippled exiles, limping our way to a home beyond our wildest dreams. Some us, like the paralytic, can’t even limp. We have to be carried.

But we don’t have to limp all the way. The reason we limp, the reason we’re spiritually blind and deaf and mute is that we’ve been mutilated by sin. Jesus wants to remedy that. In fact, it’s the first thing He addressed when the paralyzed man lay before Him. “Man, your sins are forgiven you” (Luke 5:20). Once that was done, the rest was easy.

So where do we find this healing forgiveness nowadays? Notice the imagery in Isaiah 35:6-7: “For waters are broken out in the desert, and streams in the wilderness. And that which was dry land shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water.” Water, water, everywhere, even in the most unexpected places. Our first and most fundamental healing from the crippling effects of sin came through the waters of Baptism, which Jesus won for us through His passion, death and resurrection. The water that flowed from His side on the cross (see John 19:34) is an image of this great Sacrament. Once we have passed through those waters, no trace of any sin, neither Original Sin nor any personal sin, remains. We remind ourselves of this magnificent gift every time we dip our fingers in holy water and make the sign of the cross. We can renew our Baptismal vows at any time, renewing our commitment to reject Satan and to live only for Christ.

But Baptism itself is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Sin–more’s the pity–is not. We cripple ourselves all over again in vain attempts to satisfy our selfish desires. That’s why the risen Jesus gave His priests His power to forgive sins. “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23). Our Baptismal innocence is restored as often as we immerse ourselves in the holy bath of Sacramental Confession. Then we are once again whole and strong. We can see our way on God’s holy highway to Heaven. We can leap like a stag, hear God’s directions on how to get home, and proclaim the good news to all we meet.

Since we’ve been talking so much about water and forgiveness, let’s look for Jesus in snow and snowmen in our treasure hunt today. In Psalm 51:9 King David sings, “wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”. God confirms this in Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us set things right…Though your sins be as scarlet, they may become white as snow”. Isaiah 55:10 even compares snow to Jesus: “For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” Jesus is this Word of God, sent forth from His mouth (John 1:1 & 14). He makes the earth fertile and fruitful by always doing His Father’s will. “Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever He does, this the Son does in like manner” (John 5:19). Jesus’ clothing became white as snow in the Transfiguration (Mark 9:3), and in Revelation 1:14, the hair of his head was as white as snow.

So…in snow we see Jesus’ brightness and purity, His obedience (which makes His ministry unfailingly effective), and His forgiveness. Jesus is as pure and dazzling as snow, and He proposes to make us as pure and brilliant as He. There’s an entirely new perspective on being “snow-men”!

May God make you whiter than snow.

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