Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sunday Gospel Reflection, December 17, 2017: Do not quench the Spirit...

Are you ready to let Jesus turn your world upside down? 

   As the exiled people of Israel prepare to return to their land, the prophet Isaiah proclaims a year of favor from the Lord, a jubilee year. Observation of a jubilee year involved a complete change of circumstances for all involved, a world turned upside down, so to speak:  the Lord sends his representative to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives… It is a moment of radical change, and the people of Israel are called to rejoice heartily in the Lord – to rejoice because they have confidence in what God has accomplished and will accomplish in and for them.  It is a moment of joy, born of a world turned upside down.

   Contrary to what we might imagine, Mary likewise rejoices when faced with the possibility of radical change.  She is pregnant and unwed, but, as we hear in Mary’s canticle in Luke’s Gospel, her soul rejoices in the Lord.  Not only has he blessed her with the bearing of the savior, he has also filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.  Mary recognizes the radical change that is about to be born in her, and she is filled with joy.  We also know from Luke’s Gospel that John the Baptist leaps for joy in his mother’s womb; as an adult he will head to the desert, a place of radical change and transformation, where he will come to understand the message he is to proclaim:  there is one among you whom you do not recognize, he tells the Pharisees in John’s Gospel.  Their world is about to be turned upside down as well, but they will refuse to recognize the messiah in their midst.

   Every time we recognize God present in our lives is an extraordinary moment.  We want to hold onto our own plans; we fail to see that God works differently.  A poor child, born in anonymity, invisible to the political world around him, is made glorious by the actions of God, and by our recognition of God’s work in our lives.  This is why Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to rejoice always and to remain blameless for the coming of our Lord!  God saves us in ways we can’t begin to expect; God saves us by loving us in this moment, no matter what; God saves us by turning our world upside down and sending his Son.

Are you ready to let Jesus turn your world upside down?

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle (

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