Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday in the 2nd Week of Advent
The Journey into Joy

Readings: Isaiah35:1-10; Psalm 85:9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14; Luke 5:17-26

As we enter this second week of Advent, our readings present us with a wonderful drama of homecoming, a journey into joy. The exiles in the first reading are promised that they will be brought home on a highway undefiled… called the Sacred Way. The blind will see, the deaf hear, the mute speak, the lame leap like a deer, and all around them, even in the wilderness and the wasteland, flowers will bloom and there will be much rejoicing.

In the gospel, this hopeful drama of promise finds its fulfillment. In Jesus, God ransoms his people held captive by sin and despair. Through Christ, God’s people are led on a journey into joy. Not only does the paralytic pick up what he had been lying on and walk home praising God, but even those around him are astounded, are filled with awe at what they see. They too are led to praise God. They too are led on a journey into joy.

Why are they joyful? Is it not because the Lord removes the obstacles that prevent his people from returning home? There is, for example, the physical obstacle of the one who cannot walk. There is also the deeper spiritual obstacle of the sin that Jesus forgives. And this power of the Lord to remove obstacles, to build a Sacred Way to our heavenly home, is also at work through the cooperation of others, people like the companions of the paralytic. Their faith in Christ and their love for their friend leads them to persevere in finding creative ways to overcome all obstacles, even to the extent of entering a house through the roof.

In contrast, the Pharisees and doctors of the Law seem unable to overcome their own interior obstacles, their prejudices and stereotypes: who can forgive sins but God alone? Still, Jesus does not give up on them. It is for them – to help remove the obstacle of their doubt – that Jesus works the miracle of the paralytic’s physical healing to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. Does Jesus succeed? Do any of them follow him on the road home? The passage doesn’t quite tell us.

But as we enter this second week of advent, we might reflect upon ourselves as well. What obstacles is Jesus removing for us, and through whom? How is He inviting us on the road home, on the journey into joy?

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