Into the middle of the week. Here is some reflection for a winter’s day.
This week’s Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11
11:2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples
11:3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
11:4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:
11:5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.
11:6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
11:7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind?
11:8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.
11:9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
11:10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’
11:11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Quinn G. Caldwell
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'” – Matthew 3:1-3
What if John was laughing when he said, “the kingdom of heaven has come near”? What if what he meant by that wasn’t that the end of time, with fire and judgment and your ultimate doom, was at hand?
What if what he meant was that God’s realm, God’s biggest dream, God’s fondest hope for us and all that we might become was drawing so close that it was about to break through into this time and place? Would it sound different to you? Would you live differently because of it? Would you understand why the people went to the desert to be dunked underwater by a wild man?
What if “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” isn’t so much a threat as an invitation worth accepting?
C.S. Lewis said that love is more than emotion; it is a decision. In other words, long after the warm feelings have passed, it is what we decide to do to each other, and for each other, that reveals our love.
In summary, you cannot grow in the great art form, the integration of action and contemplation, without (1) a strong tolerance for ambiguity, (2) an ability to allow, forgive, and contain a certain degree of anxiety, and (3) a willingness to not know and not even need to know. This is how you allow and encounter mystery. All else is mere religion.
This is the Christian’s joy:
I know that I am a thought in God,
no matter how insignificant I may be –
the most abandoned of beings,
one no one thinks of.
Today, when we think of Christmas gifts,
how many outcasts no one thinks of!
Think to yourselves, you that are outcasts,
you that feel you are nothing in history:
“I know that I am a thought in God.”
Would that my voice might reach the imprisoned
like a ray of light, of Christmas hope –
might say also to you,
the elderly in the home for the aged,
the hospital patients,
you that live in shacks and shantytowns,
you coffee harvesters trying to garner your only wage
for the whole year,
you that are tortured:
God’s eternal purpose has thought of all of you.
He loves you,
and, like Mary,
incarnates that thought in his womb.
Source: The Violence of Love