December 15, 2013 - Third Sunday of Advent, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
The desert in the readings this weekend is not just a place.
The desert can be within us, a spiritual dryness, a barrenness in our hearts, an emptiness in our lives.
When one is lost in the desert one is
Blind – blind to the needs of others
Deaf – deaf to the call of the Lord to change our ways
Lame – lame in our efforts to show compassion and kindness
Mute – mute when we don’t speak up for the voiceless
When we are in the desert our lives become barren wastelands. There is no peace, no joy, no affection. Love is not shown to us. And we do not give love to others.
And when one is lost in the desert there is a struggle for survival
Try as we might we cannot make the desert bloom.
ONLY GOD CAN.
We have to wait patiently. We have to wait as patiently as a farmer waiting on the planted seed to burst into new life.
But pay attention. The farmer does not wait passively. The farmer waters and prunes and prays and watches and waits.
And then it happens. The farmer is watching the field and suddenly, almost imperceptibly the shoots spring forth.
There are times in each of our lives when we are sitting in the desert watching and waiting and suddenly Jesus comes.
And when he comes the desert blooms.
The blind regain their sight. The lame walk.
The lepers are cleansed.
The deaf hear. The dead are raised to new life.
The poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
The good news is this: There is life in the desert.
Christmas is approaching quickly and John is still blocking our path to the Nativity
From his prison cell, possibly in despair, he poses this question to Jesus: Are you the one or must we look for another?
Jesus does not answer the question directly.
Instead he points to his works.
Each person must come to his or her own conclusion about whether Jesus is the one for whom they are waiting.
To get beyond John we must name the deserts in our lives.
The crippled areas.
The places where new life is desperately needed.
We must recognize that we are not like the farmer who watches and waits patiently. We are impatient and passive.
We wait for God to do for us or, just the opposite, we do for ourselves when we know full well it’s not what God wants.
There may be times in our lives when our faith is weakening, our hope is dying, and our charity is running low.
This does not mean we should despair.
John gives us an example of what we are called to do: to turn again to Jesus.
We must pray that the seeds of new life are planted in us.
We must water and prunes and pray and watch and wait. Then suddenly Jesus will make the desert bloom in our lives.
He will fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah:
He will strengthen the hands that are feeble.
He will make firm the knees that are week.
He will restore fallen creation.
Something missing is found
Something wounded is healed
Dignity is restored.
Love emerges, new life emerges.
He will say to those whose hearts are frightened: be strong. Fear not! Here is your God.
Just when we think nothing will happen Jesus comes and the desert blooms.