Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Our Scripture readings today have comforting words for us. Isaiah, in our first reading, says: “Be strong, fear not!” In the second reading St. James tells us to “Be patient and do not lose heart.” And in our Gospel account we have the words of Jesus to John the Baptist, “And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
John’s situation was a grim one as he was locked up in prison with the threat of death hanging over his head. His faith was being severely tested. John needed to be reassured and comforted in knowing that Jesus was the Messiah.
The words of today’s readings are words we need to hear also. At times we find ourselves in dark situations. Unexpected unemployment, the death of a loved one, or receiving a serious diagnoses regarding our health. These sort of things can shatter our faith. The words of Isaiah give us comfort and strength, “Be strong, fear not!”
John the Baptist was a holy and God-fearing man, yet he ended up in prison facing execution. We can do our best, but things can still go wrong and we feel let down by God. At times like these we need to hear the words of Jesus, “And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
Modern life is becomingly increasingly stressful. Preparing for Christmas brings more work and adds stress. Some people feel overwhelmed, and wonder if they will be able to cope. It is then that the words of Isaiah strengthen us, “Be strong, fear not!”
At times we may be confused by some of the things that are taking place in our world. We can feel numb and powerless, and wonder where God is, and why He does not intervene. In such situations we need to hear the words of St. James, “Be patient and do not lose heart.”
Each one of us knows of situations that can cause us to be fearful and doubtful. We can’t stop ourselves from being afraid. But we must not allow our fears to cripple us. Courage is not never feeling afraid; it is feeling afraid and going on in spite of it.
Faith is fragile and we should not be surprised when doubts arise within us. God understands our doubts in a complex world such as the one we live in. But blessed is the one who takes no offense at Jesus. In other words, blessed is the person who, in spite of all the difficulties that can come in life, does not lose faith in Jesus.
“Be strong, fear not!” “Be patient and do not lose heart.” The Lord Jesus is faithful to his promise, “And know that I am with you always until the end of the age.”
- Father Dennis
December 11, 2016