“Christ arrives right on time. . . . He doesn’t wait for us to get ready” (the message).
The first movement of the gospel symphony is that God loves us; God makes the first move to invite us and welcome us home. Christ comes to make the invitation clear and personal.
Like the childhood game of hide-and-seek, God yells through Christ, “Ready or not, here I come.”
I work for a group of Franciscan Sisters who love Saint Francis, Saint Clare, and Christmas. Most scholars think Saint Francis introduced the first living nativity in the thirteenth century. He chose a cave in Greccio, Italy, gathered a manger with straw and some animals, and told the people to come for a special midnight Mass. The night was lit like day; Francis stood before the people with deep piety and wondrous joy, and the townsfolk witnessed the humble beginnings of a God who bends low to be with them (and also with the shepherds in Bethlehem), people who are totally unprepared for God to appear and to walk with them. What kind of God would choose a manger and come as a baby? Saint Francis loved Christmas and the incredible surprise of the Incarnation, God with us. The Sisters I work with have that same joy of believing they are loved, seeing evidence of God among them, and welcoming everyone with warm hospitality.
The second movement to the symphony of God’s love is our response. We receive God’s love, and we share God’s love. One of the conversions of Saint Francis occurred when he got off his horse to give a leper a coin and ended up embracing the leper. From that experience, Francis shared God’s love with all, from Popes to Muslim sultans to the birds of the air. We are loved, and we share love.
Gracious God, thank you for loving me and showing the depth of your love in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Amen.
The readings this week lack a common theme. Genesis recounts the promise of Isaac’s miraculous birth and the fulfillment of that promise—a key story in the history of God’s people. The psalmist cries out with gladness to the Lord, for we are God’s people and the grateful recipients of unending faithfulness. Paul rejoices because we have peace with God through our faith in Jesus Christ. This is not because of anything we have done or could do; rather, God’s love sent Christ to die for us when we were distant from God. In Matthew, Jesus calls his disciples and declares that God’s harvest is vast, but there are not enough workers willing to go into the fields. It is a call for us to go as the disciples did.
Read Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7. How does your faith invite you to laughter?
Read Psalm 100. How do you make a joyful noise to God? Consider trying a new practice of joyful praise.
Read Romans 5:1-8. How has God’s love for you prompted you to “the second movement of the symphony,” to share God’s love with others and all creation?
Read Matthew 9:35–10:23. How are you called to participate in Christ’s ministry of healing?
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