Isaiah 35:1-10 / Luke 5:17-26
How incredible do we find the forgiveness of sins? How marvelous does it appear to us when someone receives pardon from God Most High? While we might like to protest that it is the greatest thing, beyond anything in the created order, beyond the healing of any physical malady, I suspect that, if we were honest, such would not be the case for most of us. Consider, for example, the last time a dear friend was assisted by a physician. For all of our medical advanced, even the simplest and most routine of procedures is, when successful, likely to produce a flood of manifest and unmistakable thanks for the doctors, the nurses, even the janitorial staff.
But what is our reaction when someone's sins are forgiven? We are, I suspect, more likely to find other things more compelling. We might be impressed by the courage that brought a long-time and hardened sinner to the confessional. We might be moved by the successful living out of a new life once forgiveness has been received. But, how amazing do we find the forgiveness itself?
In the vision of Isaiah the Church puts before us today, we are shown what forgiveness ought to look like. It is a bursting forth of life from what was sterile and dead. It is the making whole of what seemed forever broken or lost. It is the transformation of what had been dark and perilous in our lives into a safe and secure pathway to make the journey of our life to God, at the end of which we will be crowned with everlasting joy.
In our Advent waiting, as we learn to be more and more aware of how we have become lifeless or lost our way, we cannot afford to be unmoved by forgiveness. Through the Church, Jesus offers us the sacrament of Reconciliation, so that those whom the Lord has ransomed can enter the heavenly Zion singing with gladness and joy. In the joyful vision of Isaiah, will we return to the forgiveness offered freely and abundantly in Jesus Christ, and to the astonishment of the whole world, pick the the stretchers of our sins and failings, and go home to God?