Do You Want To See the Fruits of your Labors?

15 December 2010 Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Advent
Isaiah 45: 6-25; Psalm 85; Luke 7:18-23

In the middle of the heat of Hubert Webb’s release from prison, we can use this image to describe the mood of the readings today.

John the Baptist is in prison. Before his incarceration, he was preaching about the imminent coming of the Messiah. He was urging people to repent and prepare the way of the Lord. He told them that he was baptizing them with water, but the Savior who was to come will baptize them with fire and the Holy Spirit. He also said that He was not worthy even to tie the thongs of his sandals. His self-effacing effort was to bring the limelight, not on him, but on Jesus. He was giving the people great hope and expectation. Now within the walls, he wants to know if what he preached is becoming a reality. He wants to be assured that he didn’t give the people false hopes. He needs to hear for himself that he was right.

Jesus then tells John’s disciples the signs of fulfillment. He said, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news preached to them.” John then, upon hearing the news from his disciples, is greatly strengthened.

In our lives, we do experience analogously what John the Baptist greatly desired. We want to see for ourselves the fruits of our labors. We want to know whether the things we have done is right. We need to see some signs that we are correct in our parenting, in our teaching and in the decisions we have made for our personal, economic and spiritual lives.

The following are the signs we want to see. As parents, we want to see and receive feedback that we are raising our children the right way. We want to get their class report cards to gauge their growth in knowledge and character. We like to hear of their achievements as signs of productivity and creativity. These concrete manifestations shape their future as well as assuring us they will survive and find meaning in their lives without our tutelage. In the confines of our old age, knowing our children are settled and stable is a great assurance that we can die in peace.

It’s like getting good news of one’s acquittal while still in prison, as Hubert Webb and companions on the day the Supreme Court announced its verdict. The fulfillment of one’s dreams is at hand.

But the readings tell us something else. The first reading from Isaiah urges us to even believe our dreams even before it happens. Why? Because the one assuring us is the Lord who does not break His promises. He is the God who is to be trusted. He is not like those who are finicky. He said, “Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other! By myself I swear, uttering my just decree and my unalterable word: To me every knee shall bend; by me, every tongue shall swear, saying, “Only in the Lord are just deeds and power… In the Lord shall be the vindication and the glory of all the descendants of Israel.”

John the Baptist cries us to all of us to prepare our hearts and souls for the Lord’s visitation in our history. Part of this preparation is to look at our insecure future and compare our trust in ourselves with the Lord. Moving towards the right direction means a healthy partnership: our human and divine efforts; our lives and the Lord’s grace.

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