The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
How does God bring his kingdom to us? Jesus remarked that many prophets and kings before him longed to see and understand God’s plan for establishing his kingdom. When King David’s throne was overthrown and vacant for centuries, God promised, nonetheless, to raise up a new king from the stump of Jesse, the father of David. This messianic king would rule forever because the Spirit of God would rest upon him and remain with him (Isaiah 11:1).
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be equipped with the gifts of the Spirit – with wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2 – for an explanation of the gifts see this helpful article). This king would establish the kingdom of God, not by force of human will and military power, but by offering his life as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. Through his death on the cross, Jesus, the true Messiah King, would defeat Satan, overcome death, and win pardon and reconciliation for sinners. God’s plan of redemption included not only the Jewish people but all the nations of the earth as well. Through his death and resurrection Jesus makes us citizens of heaven and friends of God. The Lord Jesus wants us to live in joyful hope and confident expectation that he will come again to fully establish his kingdom of righteousness and peace.
What does Jesus’ prayer (Luke 10:21-22) tell us about God and about ourselves? First, it tells us that God is both Father and Lord of earth as well as heaven. He is both Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything and transcendent authority, and at the same time, goodness and loving care for all his children. All fatherhood and motherhood are derived from him (Ephesians 3:14-15). Jesus’ prayer also contains a warning that pride can keep us from the love and knowledge of God.
Pride closes the mind to God’s truth and wisdom for our lives. Jesus contrasts pride with child-like simplicity and humility. The simple of heart are like “babes” in the sense that they see purely without pretense and acknowledge their dependence and trust in God who is the source of all wisdom and strength. They seek one thing – the “summum bonum” or “greatest good” which is God himself. Simplicity of heart is wedded with humility, the queen of virtues, because humility inclines the heart towards grace and truth. Just as pride is the root of every sin and evil we can conceive, so humility is the only soil in which the grace of God can take root. It alone takes the right attitude before God and allows him as God to do all. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Prov. 3:34, James 4:6). The grace of Christ-like humility inclines us towards God and disposes us to receive God’s wisdom, grace, and help. Nothing can give us greater joy than the knowledge that we are God’s beloved and that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Do you seek God’s wisdom and grace with humility and trust?
Jesus makes a claim which no one would have dared to make: He is the perfect revelation of God. Our knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God – who he is and what he is like. We can know God personally and be united with him in a relationship of love, trust, and friendship. Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally know God as our Father. To see Jesus is to see what God is like. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God – a God who cares intensely and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the cross. Do you pray to your Father in heaven with joy and confidence in his love and care for you?
“Lord Jesus, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission.”
SEEDS OF HOPE
“A Shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse.” —Isaiah 11:1
Out of what appears to be a dead, hopeless situation, the Lord can cause new life to sprout and rise up (see Is 11:1). Your stump might be a broken family devastated beyond reconciliation, a ruined marriage without the possibility of reuniting, or a drug-addicted child, whose mind and life cannot be rebuilt. You look at the mess, and you see a dead stump. How can any life come out of this death?
David’s kingdom was splintered after his son Solomon died. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was defeated and irretrievably lost. All that remained was the tribe of Judah. All God’s promises for His people seemed lost forever. Yet out of that small remnant, a Shoot sprouted (Is 11:1) and the Messiah came forth: Jesus Christ, Son of David, King of Israel, Messiah, Lord, and God.
God provides examples in His creation of death bringing the seeds for new life. Decades ago, massive wildfires destroyed much of Yellowstone National Park. For many acres, all that could be seen was a charred, blackened, lifeless forest. Yet that next year the most gorgeous wildflowers in many decades bloomed in that very area.
The Advent Scriptures proclaim that though we see a lifeless wasteland, God sees abundant life (Is 35:1, 7). We see a landscape “parched, lifeless and without water” (Ps 63:2), but God sees rivers and luxuriant trees (see Is 41:18-19). We see devastation; God sees the seeds of new life. Walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). Let your heart dare to hope. Believe the Advent Scriptures.
Prayer: Father, I kneel in awe at Your merciful plan of salvation. How great is Your love; how deep are Your designs. I offer myself to You as Your servant to bring this Good News to many. Promise: “Blest are the eyes that see what you see.” —Lk 10:23 Praise: “I offer You praise, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because what You have hidden from the learned and the clever You have revealed to the merest children” (Lk 10:21). (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements