Our God Has Come To Save

Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you. 

Isaiah 35:4

Advent is so full of Christmas these days, the message of salvation is lost. What are we celebrating? Why is this season so full of joy? What is the world looking for in its search for Christmas cheer?

Presents? Family? Cookies? Snowmen and hot cocoa?

Our Christmas movies are full of sweet phrases about love and family and miracles and cheer. But it’s all empty. When the snow melts, when the last cookie is eaten, when the family leaves… what is left?

This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday of rejoicing. That message of rejoicing is lost in a world that has been rejoicing since the day after Halloween. 

But let’s look at the readings that the Church has set out for us on this Sunday. Of what do they speak? The joy and anticipation of something great that is about to happen…

Presents? Family? Cookies? Snowmen and hot cocoa?

No. Sight to blind. Hearing to deaf. Movement to the lame. Voice to the mute. Food to the hungry. Justice for the oppressed. Liberty to captives. Love for the fatherless, widows, and suffering. (Isaiah 35 and Psalm 146)


That is why we celebrate Christmas. Salvation has come. Our God is on our side, and He has come to save us.

In Sunday’s Gospel, John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus to ask him if he is “the one who is to come.” Has John begun to lose faith? Is he second-guessing what he once thought? Or is he trying to help his disciples see the glory of the Messiah, nudge them to no longer follow him, but Christ? 

Jesus could just say, “Yes,” in response to their question. But he doesn’t. He answers: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them” (Mt 11:4-5)

Why? Because he knows John and all of the Jewish people would be familiar with the first reading for Sunday, from the prophet Isaiah: “Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing” (Isaiah 35:56-6).

The answer is more than just “yes, the Messiah has come; yes, the one you have been waiting for for generations is here.” Jesus instead says, “Here is your God.” And he’s about to do even more than Isaiah dreamed… he is about to raise the dead.

That is why we rejoice this Sunday. That is why we wait, during this season of Advent. Let us listen to St. James, who advises, “You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas 5:8).

How can we help those around us realize that we are celebrating something so much greater than they can imagine? Presents and cookies and hot cocoa are great. But wake up, world. We are celebrating something so much greater. We have to help the world see that it needs a savior. The hurt and emptiness and questioning that they are trying to fill with other things has one answer: Jesus.

Let’s show the world by our actions that our Savior is not a politcal party or an activist movement, not a candidate for office, a judge, a scientist or a philanthropist. He is Jesus Christ. And He has come to give us peace and comfort and mercy.

How you using this long Advent? Are you waiting in joyful hope? Are you stirring up in your heart gratitude for the salvation that is hand? This is a time of joyful anticipation: not for the ambiguous “Christmas cheer” that our movies advertise. But for the real Christmas miracle: that our God comes to save us.

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