Saint Damasus I, Pope
Psalm 145:1, 9-13
If you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. (Matthew 11:14)
If a world-famous violinist were performing in a train station, would you notice? This happened in January of 2007, when the internationally acclaimed virtuoso, Joshua Bell, dressed in everyday street clothes and played his $3.5 million violin in a subway station in Washington, DC. He played for forty-five minutes while hundreds of people walked past without even pausing. Only two people stopped to listen.
On that day, Joshua Bell, who usually commands a salary of more than a thousand dollars a minute, made a total of thirty-two dollars in tips.
Sometimes, people just can’t see the importance of a “common” person or a miracle that is unfolding before their eyes. This is especially true in today’s readings about Jesus and John the Baptist.
We know the Jews longed for Elijah to return and smite their enemies and usher in a new era. Yet Jesus told them that John the Baptist was the long-awaited Elijah, but they couldn’t see it.
Yes, John was the new Elijah, and that poor, unassuming baby in the manger really was the Messiah. The problem was that neither one acted the way the people expected. They were too humble. They were too countercultural.
We can fall into a similar trap. Sometimes, especially during a season like Advent, we look for dramatic spiritual experiences that will overwhelm us and magically transform our lives. We look for a Hollywood moment to heal our family’s disputes or show us the way through a tough situation. But when we do this, we forget that God is already with us, humbly working quiet miracles right before our eyes. We forget that he didn’t come to make our lives easier but to make us holier.
Today’s Gospel reading tells us that God probably won’t appear to us in a flaming chariot. But rather than become disappointed, let’s accept the other message in the reading: “Jesus is with me, playing the most intricate song of grace and love that I will ever hear.” Stop, look, and listen for him. Let his music soften your heart today.
“Lord, help me to recognize those moments of grace and glory that you have in store for me.”~WAU