Monday, December 05, 2011

and the Glory of the Lord Shall be Revealed

Today's Mass readings blew me away. I had the feeling I was hearing the story of my own life read back to me from the pulpit.

Here's the feeling I got: Imagine someone plans a surprise party for you. The plans are extensive, and you don't have a clue what is afoot, but you do get terribly suspicious of the activities of the one doing the planning. You notice things you can't explain, and you devise in your head the worst possible scenario(s) to explain what you see. You get your whole psyche wrapped up around these terrible thoughts. Then the party is sprung on you. And long, long afterwards (how about years) you are still unpacking those terrible thoughts and realizing that what you thought was suspicious activity was really deep evidence of love. You go through layer after layer of the realization that when you thought the world was against you, you were actually deeply loved, despite the fact that the only one being awful was yourself.

That's how those readings hit me today. God has sprung the best surprise on me of all -- my whole life has meaning! Isaiah has always moved me, especially all the passages about restoration and the deserts blooming. These promises echoed through my heart since my childhood. What struck me today was what seems like a progression. The desert will bloom, God will restore, God will come to save you... then... the blind shall see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk. It's one thing if we see this just as a Messianic prophecy (as if that weren't enough!). But what about our lives? God restores us so that we can be His Messianic people -- and bring His healing to others. As they say in the Hokey Pokey, that's what it's all about.

Then that gospel. I have never before seen myself so clearly as the paralyzed man being let down through the roof as today. It's Advent, and I was just meditating on those Isaiah promises, so my mind went to Christmas Eve and my being called to the Catholic Church -- a major moment of conversion. I was paralyzed when God called me, spiritually speaking, because I had hated and judged Catholics for so long. (Read the whole story here.) I was "let down" into the Mass by a friend and his friends who brought me there. And just like Jesus did in this gospel, the first thing He addressed me with was the offer of forgiveness of my sins (which, of course, from my perspective, was my being faced with my sins by Him.) And this was not just a spiritual healing, but a complete reorientation of his life. But just like in the first reading, I realized that this man's healing (and my conversion) aren't just about that man, or just about me. It is all about God's glory as accusations, astonishment and awe strike other people when they see what Jesus has done. This is why our lives are to show forth His glory. This is simply the way Jesus works!

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