A reflection on the Mass readings for December 16, 2010 (Isaiah 54:1-10; Luke 7:24-30), by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB.
In the Gospel today we hear about John the Baptist and at the end of the Gospel we hear, “But the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.” It makes you wonder-- what did they go out to hear? Did they go out in order to condemn? Did they go with a mindset of saying, “If John is from God, does he have something to say to me?” Or did they think they had all of God’s words and that was enough? And so we return to the idea of listening, of an openness of heart, of asking, “What does God really have to say to me?”
When I was listening this morning during lectio, I heard, from the first Mass reading “Enlarge the space for your tent, spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes. For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left…” That is an incredible promise! Live with that promise, live in full expectation of God’s promises. At the same time, though, we have to live our vows and promises to Him. God is always overflowing with gifts, but we have to do our part too.
A few verses later in the reading from Isaiah it says, “Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you.” That is God’s word to us. His peace is not to be shaken, if we settle into it. Knowledge leads to peace—knowledge of ourselves and knowledge of others—because in that knowledge we recognize God’s gifts to us and God’s gifts to others. We know that God doesn’t fall short in giving us gifts. We must recognize them and also when they’re called forth from us to use them. That recognition is so important to be able to hold the gifts humbly. We have a lot of gifts, there’s no doubt, and God will call them forth at His choice. It’s not for us to say, “God, these are my gifts, here now use them.” Rather, it’s for God to say, “You have this gift, could you give it to us?” In that way we humbly serve and we don’t become proud because it has been called forth from us.