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Thursday, second week of Advent (Juan Diego)

December 9, 2010

Blessed St. Juan Diego’s Day!

Click here to read his story.

Readings:
Isaiah 41:13-20 (God will save His helpless people)
Psalm 145:1, 9-13 “The Lord is kind and merciful; slow to anger, and rich in compassion”
+ Matthew 11:11-15 (the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John the Baptist)

Fear not, O worm Jacob,
you that are dead of Israel,
I have helped you, says the Lord;
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel
-Isaiah 41:14

Worm, huh?
Don’t get me wrong, I like worms (yes, I know, I’m strange!),
but I’d never aspire to be one,
writing pathetically on the sidewalk, half desiccated in the blazing sun.

But that, in essence, is what God did.
That’s what we celebrate in this season of the incarnation, the en-flesh-ment of our God.

Fear not, little worm, says God,
I have taken on the role of your kinsman-redeemer, your closest relative,
responsible for righting every wrong you suffer,
even the ones you brought on yourself,
even buying back you and your property from your self-imposed slavery.

That’s pure gift!

That’s Love!

There’s no way we could’ve ever deserved that!

And it’s not just a metaphor.
God didn’t just look down from Heaven & say, “I’ve got you covered down there.”
He became one of us!

That stupendous condescension is the reason we bow during the words of the creed:

by the power of the Holy Spirit
He was born of the Virgin Mary,
and became Man

He emptied Himself and took the form of a slave,
being born in the likeness of men…
it was thus that He humbled Himself
-Philippians 2:7, 8

When Jesus prayed the opening lines of Psalm 22 on the cross (see Matthew 27:46):

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

the Jews, who prayed the Psalms three times a day and knew them like the back of their hand,
would’ve filled in the rest of the words
(much as we might fill in the missing words if someone said “Mary had a little lamb…”),
including:

But I am a worm and no man
-Psalm 22:7

A worm.

God?!

Exactly.

Now see what God can do with a worm!

I …grasp your right hand
-Isaiah 41:13

I will make of you a threshing sledge,
sharp, new, and double-edged,
to thresh the mountains and crush them
to make the hills like chaff
-Isaiah 41:15

From John the Baptizer’s time until now
the kingdom of God has suffered violence,
and the violent take it by force
-Matthew 11:12

Now that God has grasped us by the hand,
now that He has taken on our nature,
His supernatural power is at work in us.

That’s why God could say that even the least born into the kingdom of Heaven
is greater than the greatest natural man who ever lived (see Matthew 11:11). 
The least born into the kingdom of Heaven are grasped by God’s hand. 
His power operates through them. 
Not so, the natural man.  He’s left to his own devices.
And God’s weakness is more powerful than the greatest power of men (see I Corinthians 1:25).

When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off
and the storm shall scatter them
-Isaiah 41:16

It’s not so bad being a worm when God becomes one too,
when He grasps my right hand and works through me!

You shall rejoice in the Lord,
and glory in the Holy One of Israel
-Isaiah 41:16

Fear not, O worm, nor despise your lowliness.
Rejoice in the Lord!
For our God has become one of us in the Virgin’s womb!

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