14 December 2011

But have you received?

St John of the Cross
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St Dominic Church, New Orleans

If you've ever talked to an evasive teenager or an American politician, you know what it feels like to ask a question and get a non-answer. You might get an excuse or an accusation or a counter-question. Regardless of the form, the response you get isn't what you were looking for. Or even close. Listening to Jesus answer questions from the Pharisees and scribes could lead us to think that he's very much like a teenager with something to hide or a politician looking to say as little as possible. If you don't have ears to hear, it sounds as though he rarely—if ever—gives a straight up answer. However, if your ears are tuned to the Word—the prophets and their divine message—you can easily hear exactly what he's saying. Today's gospel is the perfect example of this! John sends some of his followers to question Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?" Jesus' answer is crystal clear. . .if you've listened to the the Lord proclaim to the prophet Isiah, “Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other! To me every knee shall bend; by me every tongue shall swear, Saying, 'Only in the LORD are just deeds and power. Before him in shame shall come all who vent their anger against him.'” Jesus answers John's question by recounting his own powerful deeds and by blessing all those who take no offense at him.

Jesus' response to John's disciples is extraordinary. Without saying so outright, Jesus lays claim to his Sonship with the Father and announces to anyone with ears to hear that his ministry of healing and reconciliation is not only divinely approved but of divine origin. It can be nothing less. Jesus himself is Lord. Everything he does, everything he says is the word and deed of God. Luke reports, “At that time Jesus cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; he also granted sight to many who were blind.” Those healed by his hand are healed by God. Those freed from demons by his hand are freed by God. The poor who hear the good news of freedom from his mouth are freed by the Word of God himself. Jesus' answer could not be clearer: it is Lord God who has done these things! So, take no offense that sinners are turned to obedience; that the lame walk, the blind see, the mute speak; that the promised Messiah is among you. Blessed are those whose eyes see and whose ears hear.

Indeed, we are blessed, if we will to be blessed. Our Father's outrageous generosity, His overwhelming love is indiscriminately given, freely offered to any and all who will receive it. Those whom Jesus healed were healed b/c they took in the power he sent to them. They were made right b/c they welcomed in his righteousness and ran the streets shouting their thanksgiving and praise. No longer strapped to their afflictions, they were let loose to rejoice, to spread the Good News of divine mercy, showing themselves as living witnesses to what happens to those who accept the gift of the Holy Spirit's love. We are blessed if we take no offense at the Father's generosity and give Him thanks when His voice speaks a liberating word to our chains. 

While we wait on the coming of the Lord, ask His Holy Spirit to reveal to you all that blinds you, all that deafens you; ask the Spirit to show you whatever or whoever it is that mutes your voice in praise and thanksgiving. If you cannot see or hear, if you cannot speak as a witness to grace, ask the Spirit: why? Why am I blind, deaf to the Word and not healed; why am I hungry and not fed? His answer may be: you have not received all that the Lord has given you.

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