By Fr. Rich, O.P.
The words of the responsorial psalm should sound familiar to us:
Blessed the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD, his God, The maker of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them, Who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, who gives bread to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free; the LORD gives sight to the blind. The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD protects the resident alien, comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked. (Psalm 146:5-10)
The prophet Isaiah echoes them, as he too looks forward to the coming of the Messiah:
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God; to comfort all who mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2)
And we are the recipients of David and Isaiah’s prophetic voices. We know that it was Jesus Christ they anticipated. It was He who has come to save His people, to save us. It is the strength of our liturgical year that we are reminded regularly of the pervasive presence of God’s plan in human history.
The Jewish Testament recounts again and again the covenants that were entered into between Yahweh and the Chosen People. It also recounts the repeated breaking of those covenants through loss of faith and the heaviness of despair. The Chosen People may have lost their way, but their God persisted, again and again, offering the promise of redemption, the grace of his love, and his faith in their worthiness.
In our Gospels and Epistles, we are given the stories of God’s victory, the success of the final covenant, the Lamb of God, and his very Son as the sacrifice offered:
“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” (Matthew 11:4-6)
Jesus, steeped in the prophecies of David and Isaiah, challenges John’s followers, challenges us, to believe the evidence of our eyes, our ears, and our hearts. The moment of fulfillment of God’s plan is imminent.
What do we see; what do we hear; what do we do? We remain challenged to stay hopeful, to remain grounded in our faith. Our Church sets this time aside for us to review our past and prepare for our future, grounded in the words of Christ himself, Then Jesus told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, ‘I am the Messiah!’ (John 4:26) I find that statement particularly unambiguous. Always on point, Jesus shows us clearly the path. He knows it leads through the Garden, the Cross, and the empty tomb. And he invites us to follow Him the entire journey.
This season reminds us that Jesus came to save His people, us. We are invited to use this time to ready ourselves for our own journey with Christ. The best is yet to come.