OPEN OUR EYES AND FREE US
We have just completed one of the most challenging periods of the Church year. The season of Advent, the feast of Christmas, and the feast of the Epiphany invite us to reflect on the meaning of "God with us." What does it mean that God has come to dwell with us? It says a great deal about God and about us and our world. The first thing it tells us about God is that He desires to be intimately engaged in our lives.
He simply does not want to be the God Who creates us and sends us on our way. He doesn't want to be a God Who delivers messages now and then, telling us what to do and then evaluating our performance, deciding whether to reward or punish us. No, this is a God Who says, "I want to come and dwell with you. I want to be with you." God calls us into this mysterious, intimate relationship. No one could have imagined that this is what God would have in mind. It wasn't until His Son, His very Presence, came into the world that we began to understand. What we sense in the Person of Jesus is the best clue of who we are and Who God is.
What is so exciting about this season and the hope that it gives us every year, is that not only is this union with Christ possible, but it is truly happening in us. If we really believe that we are not dealing with our own responsibilities or our lives with just our own abilities; if we really do believe that God dwells in us and is working through us, then everything changes. At times, a kind of darkness or depression can come over us when we think about life being nothing more than a million challenges we have to conquer. Our Christian faith is not about fulfilling all the needs that are around us. It's not about tasks, nor is it about getting things done or fixing things. Fundamentally, the feast of the Incarnation reminds us that what we are asked to do is to participate in a great mystery. That is the heart of Christianity. The mystery is to trust and to believe that God is truly in you and me. God's task is to be the Source of energy, life, and grace. He is to be the Source that gets the work done!
In today's readings, it's clear that the work is twofold: we are to help people to see and to help people to be free. From the very beginning, human beings were conscious of the fact that they were unable to see all that they needed to see. They knew they couldn't be free of all of the burdens that are part of life. And so, they longed for someone, something to come along and to help them. That's what the longing for the Messiah is all about. For centuries, people talked about it and prophesied about it. Isaiah was one of the clearest voices telling us that there would be someone coming to fulfill our needs. This Teacher will not shout or scream because He will speak the truth.
Isaiah proclaimed, "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all people shall see it" (Is 40:5). "'Comfort, give comfort to My people,' says our God. 'Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her guilt is expiated'" (Is 40:1 - 2). This is the God Who has grasped their hand. God forms and sets within this person the work. The work, again, is given to all peoples, to all the nations. It's not limited to any one particular group. Isaiah says this is the work of "opening people's eyes, of freeing them from that which burdens them" (Cf Is 42:7).
We are like Christ. We are the ones who have been called by name, grasped by the hand, led to a place where, if we trust, something marvelous will happen to us. The Power of God can open our eyes and free us from the things that bind us. This is our prayer today in the Responsorial Psalm, "When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth" (Ps 104:30).
Trusting and believing that we have a role as significant as Christ's is quite a challenge. Jesus began in Nazareth, simply being God's Instrument of light, grace, and peace.
He has opened the eyes of each one of us!