UNPRETENTIOUSNESS

Monday, 3rd Week of Advent           

            At first glance the objection voiced by the Jewish leaders in today’s gospel passage seems reasonable enough. Jesus had just driven from the temple those engaged there in buying and selling, and was now teaching in the temple precincts. In the eyes of the Jewish leaders Jesus was no more than an itinerant preacher, and they demanded to know by what authority he was interfering in the activities of the temple. What is a little surprising is that Jesus, rather than offering an explanation, chose to embarrass them with his question about John the Baptist and then refused to answer their demand. (Charles Miller)

            The Jewish leaders were the only people with whom Jesus was abrupt and even harsh at times. Since they had closed their eyes to what he had done, Jesus knew that they would close their ears to anything he would say. They, of all people, should have been able to read the meaning of the signs – since they professed to be experts. They just could not bring themselves to believe that God was at work in this ordinary, too familiar, untutored carpenter from Nazareth. (Charles Miller) They had blinded themselves by their smugness.      

            The marvel of Christmas, according to Charles Miller, is that God comes to us in the flesh of a baby. He continues to come to us “in very ordinary human ways” – in ordinary people, in ordinary things, in ordinary events of life. Signs of God’s generosity and goodness, proofs of his abiding presence, reminders of his constant call to repentance and renewal, expressions of his faithful love for us, are all over us. We just have to open our eyes of faith to see these signs. This is one particular grace we must pray to have during this Advent season: to have the eyes of faith – to be able to discover and see God in the ordinary.

            Moreover, the Lord continues to come to us in the unpretentiousness – one is tempted to say the plainness – of the Eucharist. Only faith can see through the veils of the humanity of Jesus. And only faith can see beyond the appearances of the bread and wine. But faith is not for the smug, the sophisticated, the self-reliant. It is for those who are willing to respond to the wonderful simplicity of God’s almighty power at work among us.

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