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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Healing - fast and slow

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A few years ago there was a book that came out titled, Thinking, Fast and Slow.  Today, on this very joyful Sunday, so joyful we see the ROSE color used (Latin for “pink, sort of”) we can see a theme in the readings that might as well be Healing, fast and slow.
The fast healing is obvious in the Gospel.  Jesus is seemingly dishing out the miracles here in order to affirm His identity to His relative, John the Baptist.  But really this is probably a summary of days of ministry, not a few minutes of a flash of miracles.  However, it is the result that matters for John the Baptist, because his disciples can see clearly that in Jesus the prophecies of the Old Testament about the Messiah are coming true.  We see that Isaiah today prophecies such fast healings in the first reading as well.  The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song.
I’ve heard that deserts sit almost colorless for months waiting for rainfall, and then within hours of rain the colors start to explode.  Of course, being in the Midwest this is something we have to hear from others, perhaps we know someone who goes to AZ for the winter! Or you could always watch Planet Earth episode #5 on deserts, which I have!  It said in Death Valley, the hottest place on earth, one shower is all it takes for seeds that have perhaps been waiting 30 years.  That instant transformation is astounding to see.
But here we get to the other side of today’s theme.  For although things can happen overnight, more often than not it takes lots of waiting.  We know that physical miracles are real, but also that they are the exception.  So too with spiritual maladies.  The sickness of the soul, the illness of our heart, often does not recover overnight.  Does that mean we should despair in it coming to fruition?  Never!  We need to be patient as well, Saint James reminds us in the second reading:
 Be patient, brothers and sisters… See how the farmer waitsMake your hearts firm!
I kind of find myself getting impatient in all kinds of silly ways in life.  Perhaps now more than ever, with the snow on the ground and the fact that my car isn’t going to be able to get from A to B in the same way.  Have you ever found yourself inching forward waiting for that green light? It’s as if I’m convinced that this ¼ of a second and these 12 inches are really going to make a difference for me and thus for the world because everyone knows I’m that important.  It’s nonsense, of course, and winter helps us remember that.  The snow makes us mozey.  We ain’t got no choice, right?  Take your time, soak it up, be patient, wait.
Be patient, brothers and sisters… See how the farmer waitsMake your hearts firm!
This is an important Advent lesson for us, and an essential one for us to make it to the point of true healing.  If we want to be healed, if you truly are ready for it and pursuing it, you will need to be patient.  Wait like that desert seed, because the rain is coming.  Be patient like the farmer, because the plants will come up and yield produce.  Keep up those prayers, keep carrying that Cross, keep showing love to that spiteful or bitter person, because eventually the healing is on its way.  When God heals us slowly, it is a Mercy of His.  It helps us appreciate it more and cherish it, and establish the good habits we need to keep it.  In fact, during Advent, as we look forward to Jesus’ coming, we are meant to be practicing that patient waiting (not opening gifts, holding back on the all-out parties and fun) because Jesus is yet to come.  That is exactly what HOPE is: looking forward with expectation.

So don’t begrudge the fact that most of the time God doesn’t want to be treated like a vending machine or a computer that yields instant results to our unending demands for healing.  Thank Him for His patient love, and patiently wait for the Graces that are on their way.  Watch and pray, in joyful hope.

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