2013-12-06, 1st Friday Advent A, Redemption

Homily 12-06-13
1st Friday Advent A
Is 29:17-24; PS 27:1, 4, 13-14; Mt 9:27-31

(Scriptures included after homily)

Our first reading today comes from a section of the Book of Isaiah entitled “Redemption.”  So let’s talk a little about Redemption.

We can think of the word redeem in a couple different senses.  A redeeming quality would be something good in a person who, for all intent and purpose, seemed useless.  Like the quiet child on a baseball team, who struck out all season.  And then in the last game, he hits a homer over the fence and redeems himself.  Or if we go to the Scriptures, a perfect example would be Zacchaeus, the hated tax collector, who promised to give back anything he stole, with exorbitant interest.  And in making that offer, Zacchaeus actually redeemed his own honesty.

Another way we can look at Redemption in our everyday lives, is with those “sale coupons”
we clip from the newspapers.  By themselves, they are pretty useless pieces of paper.  But when we cash them in at the store, we can save a great deal of money, which actually redeems them, instead, to be quite valuable.

(As an aside, there are two interesting, symbolic, religious aspects to those “store coupons.”  First, notice that the coupons always have a time limit for redemption.
You see, there’s our Advent “Be Prepared” warning.  There will be an ‘expiration date.’  And second, the coupons have to be redeemed at the right store. So if we place our Faith Coupon in the money, or sports, or gossip, or TV, or food store, we’re just not at
the right store to get Redeemed.  Our faith has to be in Jesus, for Redemption.)

OK, now, let’s go back to the Prophet Isaiah.  In our first reading, the Lord reveals the redemption of a very useless Israel.  An Israel who turned away from the God who saved them.  And yet, God promises to redeem the barren land with abundant growth.  He promises that the blind, the lame and the poor will again be able to see, and walk, and rejoice.  And He tells them that their ancestor Jacob, whom the Nation of Israel was named after, will no longer be embarrassed by his renegade descendants, because they will renew their faith in God.

And so it came to be, that over time, Israel was restored.  They were Redeemed, as God’s ‘chosen nation,’ just as Isaiah prophesied.  Unfortunately, as time continued to march on, they slowly began to lose their faith again.  Oh, many of them hoped and dreamed for a Savior, a Messiah.  But it was all pipe dreams, because they locked their eyes shut, in blind pessimism that it would never really happen anyway.

Which brings us to Jesus.  Notice, in today’s Scripture, that when the blind men asked Jesus for mercy, Jesus didn’t say “Oh by the power vested in me, as the Son of God,
I heal you.
”  No, Jesus said, Let it be done for you according to YOUR Faith.
It was their own Faith that revealed their inner ability to be healed.

They may have been physically blind, but spiritually, they had better sight than the greatest Scripture scholars of their time.  And with such strong Faith in Jesus, they slammed that homer over the fence in the last inning.  And they were redeemed!

You see, brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus came to Redeem ALL of us.
He came to remind us that we are NOT worthless scraps of paper.

When we come to Jesus in complete Faith, with spiritually-OPEN eyes.
When ALL we ask of Jesus is Mercy, then we will discover THE most Beautiful,
and Amazing, and Miraculous thing in the entire universe . . .  It’s US!
WE have been Redeemed!

And when we realize this, then we will begin to see every other person in the world with brand new eyes . . . with the eyes of the Love of Jesus. 
And they will be Redeemed, as well.

jmp 12-06-13

(This discussion does not get into the whole “paying a debt” definition of Redemption – that can be another homily.  eg – by His passion and death, Jesus paid our debt to God in order to Redeem us.)

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 12-06-13
First Friday of Advent, A

First Reading:  Is 29:17-24

Thus says the Lord GOD: But a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest!

On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.  The lowly will ever find joy in the LORD, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

For the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone; All who are alert to do evil will be cut off:  those whose mere word condemns a man, who ensnare his defender at the gate and leave the just man with an empty claim.

Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of the house of Jacob, who redeemed Abraham: now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of, nor shall his face grow pale.  When his children see the work of my hands in his midst, they shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel.

Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction.

Responsorial Psalm:  PS 27:1, 4, 13-14

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? 
The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation
One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
that I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living. 
Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation

Gospel:  Mt 9:27-31

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!”  When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?”  “Yes, Lord,” they said to him.  Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”  And their eyes were opened. 

Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.”  But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.

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