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Third Sunday of Advent - December 11, 2016


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By Deacon Jeff Mevissen

In the book of the prophet Isaiah, miracles of healing and restoration are signs of the presence and power of God.  The restoration of sight, hearing, and bodily strength are signs that God wishes to restore his intimacy with his people.  As rain makes the desert bloom, so God brings healing and wholeness.  God promises wonderful signs – the lame will not only walk but leap like deer.  The mute will not only speak but they will sing.  This is Good News for Gaudete Sunday.

 

When Jesus tells the disciples of John to tell their master that he (Jesus) is restoring the sight of the blind, the hearing of the deaf,  and even life to the dead, he is fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah.  In the prophets, God promised mercy and restoration for the people – Jesus is the face of that mercy, the expression, the revelation, the incarnation of that mercy. 

 

Can we reveal the power, the presence, and mercy of God in our lives?  Advent and Christmas is not about how nice it was that Jesus was born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago – but about how Jesus revealed the mercy of God and continues to reveal the mercy of God due to the power of his resurrection and the Holy Spirit.

 

When we take a moral stand we are restoring sight to those immersed in darkness.  When someone says, “it is my body and do as I like with it,” that is moral blindness.  For Christians, Christ purchased us with his precious blood – therefore our bodies belong to God – and if we are married – they belong to our spouse.  Therefore, the enlightened person asks, “how can I serve God and others with my body?”  When we restore a Christian vision by our witness, we counter moral blindness which in some ways is more tragic as blindness of the eyes.

 

Some people make lame excuses not to come to church – this is lameness of the spirit.  As Christmas approaches, we should be advocates for the church which reveals the presence and power of the God in the world.  At Christmas liturgies, we should be especially friendly to strangers because God may use us to restore strength to those whose spiritual life has grown lame.

 

We will not likely encounter lepers in our lifetime but we encounter people who are treated like lepers.  When my mother in law was in Brookdale Assisted Living, a man came from Trinity Methodist for bible study.  The people flocked to his assemblies because he knew them, cared for them and restored their sense of community.  We are called to imitate Jesus, the face of the mercy of God.  God wishes to restore love, peace, joy, and strength through our touch.

 

How can we bring the dead back to life?  Sometimes our relations with family and friends grow sickly and risk dying out.  Saying, “I am sorry,” and “I love you,” have immense power to bring friendships back to life.  Sometimes we are called to speak a prophetic word to someone who has grown deaf to the call of God.

 

Anyone who has heard more than two of my homilies knows that one of my favorite stories is Les Miserable by Victor Hugo.  Jean Valjean was a hard and bitter man after ten years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread when the family of his sister was hungry.  As a parolee, Valjean is harassed and ostracized by the village people where he stops to eat.  After Valjean in turn antagonizes the people Valjean is taken in and fed by a bishop when he flees the constables.  Valjean responds to the kindness of the bishop by stealing the household silver.  When Valjean is caught and returned to the bishop, the bishop claims the silver was a gift and indeed the bishop offers the silver to Valjean to launch a new life in the community.  In the touching scene, the compassion of the bishop restores dignity and honor to a man deprived of both.  The kindness of the bishop transforms Valjean into a force for good.  Valjean as Monsieur Madeleine becomes an advocate for Madam Fantine who was compelled to sell her body to survive as a single mother.  Valjean restores to Fantine the dignity and honor he had recovered through the kindness of the bishop.  My dear brothers and sisters, God wishes to restore and strengthen his people and he wishes to do so through our healing touch.