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Waiting Patiently ...

Dear Parishioners,

When we limit what we are looking for, we limit what we might find. If we are only looking for coins with a metal detector, we might miss finding a primitive tool from the Iron Age. If we are only looking for a six-figure-salary job, we might miss the job that can be at hand to pay our immediate bills. If we are looking for a movie-star type Mr. or Mrs. Right, we may miss an opportunity to spend a lifetime with someone who loves deeply and faithfully. Life is limitless when our horizon of vision is expanded to include the unexpected and the extraordinary.

This weekend’s Gospel has two central characters – John the Baptist and Jesus. The Gospel says marvelous things about both … Jesus works to reverse the sad plight of humanity … John is a prophet privileged to announce the coming of the Messiah. With this Third Sunday of Advent, our attention is turned explicitly toward the Christmas mystery, but rather than an infant, we encounter the adult Jesus who is already about His saving ministry. If we are only looking for a baby in a manger, we will not be able to recognize what the Gospel is truly asking us to see … Jesus the Messiah … who brings about a reversal of the human plight. We who see and acknowledge this Jesus are blessed as John the Baptist was blessed.

Israel was patiently awaiting a conquering Messiah who would be their earthly king. The surprise of the Gospel is who the Messiah truly is – the tender and merciful servant who reaches out to those in need. In Jesus, the whole vision of God for a world of peace and harmony comes to fruition. An alternative world is present in the coming of this Jesus Messiah, a world far surpassing the wealth and might and power of earthly expectations. The world Jesus brings is a world in which all are blessed beyond what we look for or see – even beyond imagination.

The crowds went out in the desert to see a prophet. Jesus assures them they saw even more, and he extols John’s greatness. Now, here is the real shock of the Gospel and the blessing: as great as John is – the one who follows Jesus – even the very least of these is still greater than John! We are those blessed ones who inherit the “kingdom of heaven,” those of us who take up Jesus’ tender and merciful servant ministry and continue to bring sight and healing and proclaim the Good News to all those we meet. Now it is our ministry to reverse the sad plight of humanity by helping others see in Jesus the One who brings blessing.

Let us see John for who he really is – the messenger pointing to the Messiah. Let us see Jesus for who He really is – the Messiah-king whose power is in His being the tender, merciful servant. Let us see ourselves for who we really are – God’s blessed and beloved who, when we minister as Jesus did, are even greater than John the Baptist. Yes, seeing is believing – but only when we look beyond to the blessedness breaking upon us.

The patience admonished in the Second Reading is needed for us to look beyond our limited vision and to see what God offers us in Christ Jesus. If we limit our expectations to a baby born long ago in a manger, we will not be able to see Jesus as the “glory” and “splendor” of our God who is present among us – and within us – and whose presence continues to save. Through patience – first, with ourselves – we gradually learn to look beyond the immediate demands of the cares of our everyday lives to see the possibilities for change in our lives and in the lives of others.

May Saint Michael the Archangel defend, guide, protect, and intercede for us always!

~ Fr. Larry

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