Is 7:10-14; Rom 1:1-7; Mt 1:18-24
4th Sunday of Advent
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!” On the surface, these words spoken by King Ahaz in response to God’s request via the prophet Isaiah for the king to ask for a sign would seem to be the very model of humility. Isn’t it a hallmark of the person of faith NOT to demand signs from God but rather to trust that things will work out the way God intended as he/she does his/her best each day to cooperate with Grace?
Not if the person encouraging you to ask for a sign is speaking on God’s behalf. There’s an old joke that goes like this: A man was standing on the roof of his house as the flood waters all around him began to rise. During the course of the afternoon two men in rowboats came by and a helicopter hovered overhead. Voices from all three called to him, pleading with him to come aboard. “No,” he said. “God will provide for me.” Eventually, he was overcome by the water. As he stands before God in eternity, he asks, “Why didn’t you come to save me when I needed you?” God looks quite perplexed. Finally, God says, “Who do you think sent you the two rowboats and the helicopter?”
Sometimes, we presume too little of God. We don’t take Jesus at his word when he calls upon us to follow, and to receive eternal life – beginning not in the Hereafter but in the Here and Now. Other times, we convince ourselves that we have God figured out and we know how God is going to act and what a sign from God looks like. And then, locked tightly within our own expectations, we miss the miracle happening in front of us.
God was born into the world on that first Christmas so we would never, ever have to wonder whether or not God is present in our lives. The title both the prophet and the gospel of Matthew use to describe Jesus is “Emmanuel” – “God with us.”
Remember this Christmas that the greatest gift you will receive needs no batteries and does not need to be unwrapped. Don’t be afraid to ask for a sign of God’s presence. Pray for the grace to see it. You will not be disappointed.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)
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