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Monday, Second Week of Advent (St. Nicholas)

December 6, 2010

Blessed St. Nicholas’ Day!

Click here for his story

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)

Whoever said, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t,”
didn’t reckon on God.

To exiles in oppressive slavery,
God promises a glowing vision of return, restoration, full vigor and glory.
To a paralytic, weighed down even more by his guilt than by his malady,
Jesus pronounces forgiveness.

Surely it’s too good to be true.

Even if one had hope at the beginning,
years of cold, hard “reality” grind it down to a dull ache.
Cynicism sets in.
Oh, sure, I’ll keep asking, but I’m not really expecting anything.
That hurts too much.
And I’m not sure my feeble hands and weak knees
could get me through having everything go topsy-turvy
(even good change requires a lot of adjustment).
I’ve gotten used to the way things are.

Advent is a season of hope, a time of anticipation.
God gave it to us because He knew we’d lose hope,
that we’d need motivation to reawaken it.

This isn’t just hypothetical for me.
The intention I picked for the Christmas “novena
is one I’ve been praying for daily for over 20 years.
But begging God fifteen times a day gives it a whole new flavor!
I’m glad God told us to pester Him! (see Luke 18:1-8)
And I don’t really expect an answer anymore,
nor do I know how I’d handle it if I got it (it’d cause major upheaval).

Let it be done to you according to your faith
-Matthew 9:29

Ulp…

I believe.  Help my unbelief!
-Mark 9:24

Fortunately for us, God’s not cynical.
He doesn’t give up.
And there is no such thing as “too good.”
There are things that seem good but aren’t…and there’s God. Period.
He is the epitome of the true and the good–both.
If it’s true, it’s good.  If it’s good, it’s true.

Where we run into trouble is that the good isn’t necessarily easy or pleasant…
especially in the aftermath.

The exile who returned to Jerusalem had a long row to hoe,
rebuilding the ruins while fending off the attacks and intrigues of the Samaritans
(see Ezra 4, Nehemiah 3:33-4). 
The paralytic Jesus healed had a major learning curve ahead of him. 
He couldn’t just lie around all day anymore,
but he had no experience (at least, no recent experience)
in handling the little details of life that we take for granted (like earning a living!).

Again, fortunately for us, God’s fully prepared to provide for our weaknesses.
Yes, He does tell us to

strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak…
Be strong, fear not!
-Isaiah 35:3, 4

But He is the One Who will save,
Whose forgiveness will open blind eyes, clear deaf ears,
empower lame legs and loose dumb tongues (see Isaiah 35:5-6, Luke 5:20-25).
He will make the desert bloom, the streams flow, and the highway safe
(see Isaiah 35:1, 6, 8-9).
We will meet with joy and gladness (Isaiah 35:10).
We will see the glory of our God (Isaiah 35:2).

No matter how difficult the good may be, it’s worth the sacrifice!

So what good have you given up on?
What hope is God calling you to rekindle this Advent?
He has an answer for you–if not the exact one you’re looking for, then an even better one.

The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
If it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late
-Habakkuk 2:3

With God all things are possible
-Mark 10:27

May God bless your Advent hope.

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