Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Albert the Great Priory & The Church of the Incarnation
I am the Lord and there is no other. There is one name to call out in our distress. There is one name to call out in praise and thanksgiving. Just one name to lift up, to hold up before the world; one name to clear the way, to straighten the path, and one name to heal the sick, to bring justice to the oppressed; and one name to proclaim as the Good News of the kingdom. One. Just one. And no other.
John the Baptist sends his students to find out from Jesus if he is the “one who is to come.” What John is expecting from the Messiah is something like an apocalyptic rescue for the people of God, a fiery reformation of the nation and temple. Rotting away in prison, John is longing for the righteous justice of his Lord, an angry war against the oppression of foreign invaders and their domestic collaborators. His life has been the proclamation of the coming of the Lord and the preaching of a baptism of repentance, a baptism in water to turn away from sin, away from injustice toward the Lord. John’s has been a lone voice, a single voice crying out the name of the Lord, and now he wants to know from the lips of Jesus himself, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
Jesus tells John’s disciples to go back to John and witness to him what they have seen. No battles, no fiery rescues, no lightning strikes from heaven, no plagues thrown at the enemy—just restoration, correction, healing, and the unwavering proclamation of the Good News of the Lord’s freely offered salvation. Jesus’ public witness is the restoration of what has been corrupted, the correction of what has gone awry, the healing of the diseased back to trust, and his own declaration of his mission as the One Anointed.
On the prophetic tongue of Isaiah, the Lord places His own testimony to Who He Is for us and to us. He is the creator of the light and the darkness, of well-being and woe. He is the designer of heaven and earth, the author of justice and our salvation. He is the Creator of all that is—everything we need, everything we are! He is God and there is no other.
This is the time, these few weeks before the feast of Christmas, to lift up to the Lord everything we have, everything we are. To hold up before Him our blindness, our sufferings, our diseases, all the evil spirits we fight; to hold before Him our doubts, our anxieties, our injustices, all those times we have turned a deaf ear to His Word. This is the time we look for the One Who Is To Come and no other—no other god, no other lord, no other power, nothing else at all to be our health and our salvation.
From the prophetic tongue of Isaiah to the heralding witness of John the Baptist, the hope, the true expectation of the coming of the Lord has been announced and the Good News told again and again. The Lord has come. The Lord is coming. Blessed are they who come in the name of the Lord. And blessed is the one who takes no offense. Wait, wait, wait. And wait. Trembling at the coming of the Lord.