Sunday Readings: Isaiah 35.1-6,10; James 5.7-10; Matthew 11.2-11
When John the Baptist heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent a message by his disciples to ask, “Tell us, are you the one to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus answered them, “Go tell John what you hear and see: the blind can see; the lame walk; lepers are cured; the deaf hear; the dead are raised to life, and the poor have the good news preached to them” (Matthew 11.2-6).
During Advent we create wreaths using the boughs of trees that stay ever-green and symbolize the encircling, sustaining life and holy mystery in which we live. We humans depend on trees and plants to make oxygen. The breaths we take in and out without thinking image the invisible Spirit, the giver of life, who sustains us.
In a sense God is green; that is, God is life-giving. In the prophetic poetry of Second Isaiah, Sunday’s first reading, the Earth greens and people become whole wherever God steps. Second Isaiah speaks from exile in Babylon. He envisions God leading a new exodus that is not a triumphant military march but a healing, life-giving regathering of a scattered, defeated people and leading them through a desert that bursts forth with springs of water and blossoms wherever God passes.
When the Baptist hears about Jesus’ healing and preaching, he wants to know if Jesus is the Messiah. In his answer Jesus’ quotes Isaiah 35. Jesus brings the compassion of God among the people, healing and preaching God’s nearness.
Every Advent we prepare to celebrate the surprise of God becoming one of us and the challenge to live the same compassion for others.
What does green symbolize or express for you? What broken people can you help mend?