John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus to ask him whether or not he was the Messiah. Jesus answered their inquiry with the concrete expressions of what was happening. “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk,lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear,the dead are raised,and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me” (Mt 11:4-5).
The ministry of Jesus was and continues to be today one of personal contact. Christianity is not merely a philosophical idea or even a particular theology. It is a faith tradition of an encounter with the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God. We are walking through Advent to remember again that a light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (cf. Jn 1:5).
Sometimes we can be weighed down by the darkness, the negativity, horror, and destruction we see all around us. The world certainly appears to be in a real mess at times. One of the most common critiques and a valid one at that is if there is a loving God, why does he allow such horrible things to happen, especially to the innocent?
The Scriptures are clear, all that God has created is good. Evil is a deprivation of the good. It is an absence or distortion of the good that God has made, like a cavity in a tooth. The healings and miracles of Jesus we read about, as he himself describes in today’s Gospel, are the beginning overture of the restoration of that which was lost. God comes to us in our everyday lives and circumstances with the intent to save us, to make things right again for everyone.
No matter what darkness we may be experiencing or witnessing this Advent, let us look for the light of Jesus shining in the midst of it. I can’t offer you a sufficient answer as to why God allows some bad things to happen or why he heals some and not others.
My heart still aches with the loss of JoAnn, I can’t stop thinking about her, and I have no answer as to why she is no longer with us. I also know that my sight is limited and that in God’s plan he, as he did with allowing his Son to die on the Cross, will bring about a greater good in the fullness of time. I also know that he has not left me to suffer alone. I have felt his comforting presence through the support and prayers of family and friends, his closeness, and gentle touches from JoAnn.
This Advent we are not to only look for that light in the darkness, but be that light in the darkness for others. We are to allow Jesus to shine through us, to allow his love to be present in each encounter we experience. We are just passing through this world and need to remember this is not all there is, but there is a life of fulfillment to come. What we see now is just but a hazy image of what is to come in the fullness of the height, depth, and breadth of God’s plan.
The healings in today’s reading, as well as those throughout the gospels, are but a foreshadowing of the victory to come that has been won for us in Christ. As we continue to live in the in-between time of the first coming of Jesus at his birth and his second coming again, let us continue to resist the temptation of despair and be hopeful, let us not give in to doubt but be faithful, and let us refuse to allow fear to be our guide and instead be people who radiate God’s love. This is what Advent is all about!
Photo: Flower that bloomed in the meditation garden outside our LA apartment the week before I returned home to Florida.