Monday 5 December 2022 2nd week of Advent
Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom, let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil, let it rejoice and sing for joy. The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, the splendour of our God. Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees, and say to all faint hearts, ‘Courage! Do not be afraid. ‘Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you.’ Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy; for water gushes in the desert, streams in the wasteland, the scorched earth becomes a lake, the parched land springs of water. The lairs where the jackals used to live become thickets of reed and papyrus… And through it will run a highway undefiled which shall be called the Sacred Way; the unclean may not travel by it, nor fools stray along it. No lion will be there nor any fierce beast roam about it, but the redeemed will walk there, for those the Lord has ransomed shall return. They will come to Zion shouting for joy, everlasting joy on their faces; joy and gladness will go with them, and sorrow and lament be ended.
Psalm 84 Look, our God is coming to save us.
Jesus was teaching one day, and among the audience there were Pharisees and doctors of the Law who had come from every village in Galilee, from Judaea and from Jerusalem. And the Power of the Lord was behind his works of healing. Then some men appeared, carrying on a bed a paralysed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of him. But as the crowd made it impossible to find a way of getting him in, they went up on to the flat roof and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith he said, ‘My friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ The scribes and the Pharisees began to think this over. ‘Who is this man talking blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But Jesus, aware of their thoughts, made them this reply, ‘What are these thoughts you have in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven you” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralysed man – ‘I order you: get up and pick up your stretcher and go home.’ And immediately before their very eyes he got up, picked up what he had been lying on and went home praising God. They were all astounded and praised God, and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’
The peoples of God glimpse their return from exile to an abundant land in which they are forgiven, healed and nourished. Forgiveness of God completes the healing that is needed to release us from our tendency towards individualism, non-reliance, separateness, and the deification of our own biases. The cripple of the Gospel is forgiven not just healed. This is the action of God – to forgive. We must be missionaries of forgiveness.