Monday of the Second Week of Advent

St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Isaiah 35:1-10  +  Luke 5:17-26
December 7, 2015

“Our God will come to save us!”

The refrain to today’s Responsorial is from the First Reading, from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.  It’s rare for the Church, in selecting Scriptural texts for Holy Mass, to weave a verse from the First Reading within the proclamation of the Responsorial Psalm.  “Our God will come to save us!”

This sentence could serve as the motto for the Season of Advent.  It proclaims three things.  It proclaims first that God Himself is the Messiah, the one for whom we wait.  It’s not a human Messiah that we’re waiting for.  The sentence also proclaims that He will come:  we focus on Him as the object of our hope.  Third, He will come to save us.  He will come not to punish us or lecture us, but to save us.

Salvation, however, itself can have multiple meanings.  The first two truths proclaimed by this sentence—that our God will come—lose their meaning if we don’t focus them correctly by understanding what this salvation truly is, and is not.

To be saved implies being saved from something or someone.  This is what the sentence—and Advent—boils down to:  if we need salvation, what do we need salvation from?

Today’s Gospel answers this question.  Jesus works a miracle to focus our attention not on His ability to work miracles, but on the fact that He is the Messiah.  He comes to bring us salvation from our sins.  Our Advent prayers, fasting and good works have the aim of helping us enter into today’s Gospel and living as the men who lower their friend on a stretcher.  Perhaps the Messiah’s response is unexpected by those men, but it’s what we long for during Advent:  “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘As for you, your sins are forgiven.’ ”