Yesterday the haunting verses of O Come, O Come Emmanuel were a welcome massage for my heart. Since early October we’ve been warned of supply chain shortages and inflation that threaten ruin to all we hope for in the Christmas holidays. Hearing the name of God-with-us cracks open our hearts to receive the light, the Light of the World.
The invitation of this morning’s liturgy redirects our attention from commercial revelations to divine revelation. We almost catch our breath as we hear the nations cry out, Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain…. The Lord’s mountain will be seen as the highest mountain, according to the vision of the prophet Isaiah, speaking of the final age. Worship of the true God will be so conspicuous that it will be known to all people. The Kingdom established by the Messiah will be so attractive that all people will willingly lay aside the violence at hand to kneel before others in service: They shall beat their swords into plowshares / and their spears into pruning hooks.
This “mountain” envisioned by Isaiah is presented to us by today’s Gospel reading as a Person, a man with two hands and two feet. The One who doesn’t wait for us to climb the mountain but who instead comes to us who are poor, wretched, made up of a billion needs, dependent. The One whose coming we celebrate at Christmas, and whose coming is so tenderly depicted in the nativity scenes that we’ll soon see in churches and homes.
Jesus says to us, as he said to the centurion in Capernaum who appealed to him for his servant who was paralyzed, “I will come [to you] and heal you.”
As Christians we can hold on for sure to this promise even in the midst of the storms of these years we’ve lived: Christ has come. Jesus the Christ is here with us today. Christ will come again. The historical situation in which we live cannot rob us of the grace we’ve been given, the grace freely bestowed on us in Christ by the Father.
Take heart, my friends, from the simple words of the centurion in today’s gospel. A simple, clear, humble statement: Lord, my servant is suffering. Jesus immediately responds: I will come and cure him.
Lord, I am old and worry about my life. I will save you.
Lord, I am exhausted and suffering. I will come and cure you.
Lord, my children are far from you and from me. I will come and cure them.
Lord, I don’t know where to turn. I will come and hold you.
Lord, I feel alone and depressed. I will come and sit with you.
In the midst of all the struggles, trials and tribulations both in the world and in our lives, it is to the Lord himself this Christmas that we must look, to the God become man who walks among us even today, even now. It is to the Lord, more than any other resource, that we must turn to hear the Advent-Christmas promise: I will come. I have come. I will come again. There will be no shortage of Christ this Christmas.
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