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The Lord Our Healing

To all, 

Every time I read our first reading for this Sunday (Baruch 5:1-9), I am swept up in the emotion of these words: “For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, so that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.” I get caught up because of the words that are chosen: “every lofty mountain be made low,” and “the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground.” God is saying to us that even the most intimidating obstacle can be overcome, and that that even the most serious wounds that we may be carrying for what seems to be forever can be healed! 

When I think about “age-old depths and gorges,” I think not only of crosses individuals may be carrying, I think also of sins like racism and sexism and prejudice of every kind. I think of cycles of violence and revenge we see played out in so many parts of the world. Even we good church people are vulnerable to the same temptations that caught the Pharisees and scribes who fought Jesus at every turn. 

So as I wrote last week, I find myself yearning. I find myself yearning for the prophecy of healing to come true. I find myself yearning for the healing of divisions; for the healing of prejudice and injustice toward the “other;” for the healing of hatred and fear. In reality, we believe that our yearning has been answered in Jesus Christ, if only we would take Him and what He has commanded us to do to heart. 

How do we do that? In our Gospel reading from Luke (3:1-6), we hear about John the Baptist. In his preaching, he fulfills the prophecy from Isaiah: “A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John did this by “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” We make straight the path of Jesus into our hearts so that He can heal us, by turning back to Him, by repenting of all that takes us away from Him. 

As we make more and more room for Jesus in our hearts and in our lives, the prayer of St. Paul for the Philippians which we hear in our second reading (Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11) becomes increasingly fulfilled: “And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…” Oh, that our love may increase in perception so that we can see Christ in each other and even in those different from us! Would that our knowledge of God’s love for us extend even to the “least of these!” That is my hope, at least: that I may repent, and open my heart to Jesus so that I can open my heart to others. 

This is a time of year when these thoughts and prayers come more to the fore. People volunteer and give, especially during this holiday season. So, in the words of our second reading: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” May God’s work come to as close to completion in us as we can have in this life. 

I welcome any comments or questions. Thanks for your time. 

                                                                        In Christ Who Is to Come, 

                                                                        Phil, CP