We have been watching and waiting and praying and rejoicing and preparing. Now it is time to be still and be open to welcome the one who comes…the Messiah, the justice of God, the Prince of peace, the Savior of the World, the Word become flesh, Emmanuel, God-with-us…..

Open your eyes and look beyond what you see!

Open your ears and listen to the “Voice” crying out: He comes!

Open your whole being….God has many ways of surprising us! He shows up in the most surprising and unexpected places!

As the doe longs for flowing streams

So my soul longs for you, oh God

My soul thirsts for God

For the living God (Psalm 42)

These are ancient words — over two thousand five hundred years old — and yet they are still living words. Most of us have experienced dryness in the throat, restlessness of the spirit, longing of the heart, urgency of the desire, passion for something bigger than us…

There are those moments when we have to pull back from the daily routines of our lives and bless ourselves with silence, solitude…….freed from lectures, sermons, chants, laments, buying and selling and the like that crowd our lives!

Often people tell me how terrible their day or week or weekend was because, their Cable was out, the internet didn’t work, the phone has not been working properly…static fills all conversations. OH, how dependent we are on the modern conveniences! Could this be an opportunity to bless ourselves into silence?! What would it mean to bless ourselves into silence?

Elijah, the prophet, fled into the wilderness and sat under a broom (Juniper) tree! (I Kings 19:4) “Yahweh,” he says, “take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” The day before, Elijah had put four hundred priests of Baal to death. He is caught in the old patterns of retribution and now fears for his own life.

An angel had instructed Elijah to go to Horeb after forty days of wandering. He was to climb the sacred mountain and wait for Yahweh. First a mighty wind came, then an earthquake, and a great fire. Yahweh was in none of them. Instead, he finally came in the silence of a gentle breeze.  

Take a moment and mediate on the following song….sing it in your heart!

Listen, let your heart keep seeking,
Listen to his constant speaking,
Listen to the Spirit calling you.
Listen to his inspiration,
Listen to his invitation,
Listen to the Spirit calling you.

He’s in the sound of the thunder, in the whisper of the breeze.
He’s in the might of the whirlwind, in the roaring of the seas.

He’s in the laughter of children, in the patter of the rain.
Hear him in cries of the suffering, in their moaning and their pain.

He’s in the noise of the city, in the twitter of the bird,
And in the night time the stillness helps you listen to his word.

He speaks through all your companions, thru the friendly, thru the foe.
Therefore give ear to the Spirit wheresoever He may blow.

Open your ears and listen to the “Voice” crying out: He comes, comes, ever comes!

The Psalmist prayed (Psalm 63)……

O God, You are my God whom I seek;

For you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts,

Like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.

Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary,

To see your power and your glory,

For your kindness is a greater good than life;

My lips shall glorify you.

Thus will I bless you while I live;

Lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.

As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,

And with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.

I will remember you upon my couch,

And through the night watches, I will meditate on you:

You are my help and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.

My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.

People have longed for God throughout history and have had glimpses of His presence. Our tendency is to capture that experience and hang on. We want to create his image, paint his picture, carve His image, build houses and sanctuaries, churches and cathedrals and basilicas. We want to keep Him where we can find him again.

David was living in a luxurious palace. He began to feel guilty because he was in the palace and the Lord was in a tent. So he decided to build a temple for God (2 Samuel 7). God spoke to him through Nathan the prophet and reminded him of how he had become king. It was God’s doing and God would continue to bless him and make his kingdom great and prosperous. David, in all his power, could never do what God had done for him and for his people.

We cannot contain the presence of God in a temple, a tent, an ark, a tabernacle or any other work of human hands. During their journey in the desert, the tent symbolized God’s abiding presence with his people on the move. The temple, eventually, did become a unifying force in the life of Israel. A temple that is stationary or a tent that is on the move, both represent God’s faithful and constant presence among his people. The Gospel proclaims that God can not be contained in any structure (Luke 1:26-38). God has chosen to live among us and within us. He has chosen to become flesh, human and be present in the very lives of his people.

Look beyond what you see, beyond the structures, the rituals and the worship forms. Look deep within you. Rediscover the presence of the sacred, the presence of the God of love and compassion deep within you.

The heart is a small vessel, but all things are contained in it; God is there, the angels are there, and there is also life and the Kingdom, the heavenly cities and the treasures of Grace (St. Makarios). Take a moment and reflect over these thoughts.

Open your eyes and look beyond what you see!

Open your ears and listen to the “Voice” crying out: He comes, comes, ever comes!

Moses had to look intently and finally beyond the burning bush. He had to listen to the “Voice” asking him to take off his shoes and telling him that he was on Holy ground.

Moses had to listen again and look beyond his own inadequacies and follow God’s directives.

The Gospel according to Luke tells us about the visit of angel Gabriel to Mary with the great news of the birth of Jesus: “You have found favor with God and you shall conceive and bear a son and give him the name Jesus…..” (Luke 1:26-38). Gabriel assured her that it was through the power of the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child and that “nothing is impossible with God”. Mary surrendered and said to Gabriel, “I am the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say”.

Mary listened to the Voice! He came dwelt within her!

Open your ears and listen to the “Voice” crying out: He comes, comes, ever comes!

Mary listened to God’s word and God’s word became flesh in her. God’s word comes to us today through the Scriptures, through lived experiences of many people, through our own personal experiences and through many events and situations. We are called to be sensitive, docile, available and attentive to God’s word and let God’s word become flesh in our life.

May God’s Word of “Love” continue to become flesh, real, tangible, in all of us!

It was in simple faith that Mary accepted the angel’s message. She accepted it without full knowledge and with troubled heart and fearful spirit. Luke tells us that Mary did not understand, but she pondered and wondered. Mary has become a model for all believers.

Like Mary, we must listen, wonder and ponder and doubt and believe and trust our way through life’s many challenges, troubles, fears, anxieties and uncertainties.

Luke’s Gospel tells us the story of Jesus and the disciples on the mountain. They heard the “Voice” and the Voice asked them to listen to Him. Peter, James and John felt secure, happy, at home in the presence of Jesus, transfigured in glory. They felt they had reached the end of their journey and they were not ready to move on – they just wanted to stay in their experience of comfort, joy, security and glory. Peter wanted to capture this experience in three booths and stay on the mountain. He heard another voice, the voice of his master asking him to go down the mountain and he did.

Look beyond the Bread you eat. See your Savior and your Lord.

Look beyond the cup you drink. See His love poured out as Blood.

Give us a sign that we might believe in You.
You brought us manna from the sky.

 I am the Bread which from the Heavens came.
Those who eat this Bread will never die.

 The Bread I give you will be My very flesh.
My Blood will truly be you drink.

Open your eyes and look beyond what you see!

Open your ears and listen to the “Voice” crying out: He comes, comes, ever comes!

Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs

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