I must feel every moment of these last few days of Advent . The labour pains of giving birth to new life are intense and not a little anxious. However,...
Last week we ended our reflection with the thought that we need to go in and take possession of what the Lord has given us. To do this we have to be both
ABLE and WILLING to bring forth a real commitment. Both these require us to be pro-active and not passive participants in a system. Last week we were warned about following a system of observances. The Christian faith has nothing to do with a system. Rather it is A WAY of life which challenges us to bring forth.
All this asks for a careful reflection of this week’s
OLD TESTAMENT READING [ISAIAH 35: 4 – 7a]. There we read a challenge for those “who are of fearful heart, ‘Be strong, fear not’.” In addition we are reminded that if we are pro-active our God “will come … with recompense … he will come and save you.”
At regular intervals in the living of life and faith we find ourselves in a bind or dead-end street. No system will be effective. We have to be pro-active and do a little private detective work – looking deeper than we might find comfortable. What we discover within ourselves is often a surprise. There are
“streams in the desert,” and the “the eyes of the blind shall be opened.”
Discipleship is all about action, seeking, looking – and all of these must be done with the Lord, with Gospel facts, and because it is Jesus Christ whom we seek in the passing wilderness. There is a vast difference between being alive and living! The true disciple avoids merely being alive in a life of quiet desperation.
TODAY’S PSALM [146 or 145] speaks to us about the fidelity which is preserved forever. The living Christian is a person of FIDELITY …. fidelity in all circumstances – and real faith must be a LIVING THING. The KNOX TRANSLATION of this Psalm tells us that “happier is the man who turns to the God of Jacob for help, puts no confidence but in the Lord his God … the God who keeps faith forever.” If our Christian God keeps faith forever why should we expect less from ourselves? I believe that this fidelity means being faithful in our individual quests to DISCOVER more about ourselves and more about God-in-Christ. Yet, we discover nothing with eyes and ears closed – and both remain closed when our confidence is focussed in and on a system which does not allow us time to slow down and breathe!
TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT [JAMES 2: 1 – 5] tells us how the system and external observances of society so easily take control of our faith-value judgements.
We have to be constantly on guard against systems pervading our judgements and approach to so much of our daily routine. In addition, make a special note of James’ opening words that we need to
“hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.” HOLD the faith … do not hoard it within a system of observances. Hold the faith in such a way that it will bring forth those riches which are in marked contrast to the observances and judgements of contemporary society. Too often we hold the system of our society in greater fidelity than the WAY of the Gospel.
So, TODAY’S GOSPEL [MARK 7: 31 – 37] slots in effectively. Firstly, see how some people were pro-active and involved: “they brought to him a man … and they begged him.” Then, notice how Jesus introduces time for the man to slow down and breathe: “aside from the multitude privately.” Finally, we hear the words “ephphata … be opened.” Be opened … BRING FORTH – and the man brought forth both hearing and speech.
So, we are challenged (charged!) to both hear the Gospel and then speak of its value and effectiveness in our living.
However, I must first speak of it to myself. I must hear myself ‘speaking’ and know that what I say and hear is true!