Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wash me and I shall be white as snow

It's two days before Christmas and the story continues with more about John the Baptist and his birth.  The Old Testament reading has some interesting imagery in it though.  It talks of sending a messenger before him, to prepare the way.  Then it says the Lord will come suddenly into the temple.  This particular book, Malachi, was probably written during the exile, several hundred years after Elijah had been taken up in the Chariot of Fire.  It talks about Elijah's return.  Later in the New Testament, hundreds of years later, we see them say that John came in the Spirit of Elijah to fulfill this prophecy. 

What I find interesting though is the two images of God we find here, the images of one who is coming to prepare us.  The first image is that of a refiner.  It talks about refining Gold and silver.  Refining of course means to take an ore with impurities, apply a great amount of heat, then to scoop off the dross from the top.  Dross means the worthless, impure parts.  You keep repeating this until you're left with pure silver.  How do you know though? How does one know when silver or gold is refined?  Someone once said, "When you can see your reflection in it."  That speaks volumes in revelation to who God is.  We will be what he wants us to be, when he sees Him in us.  Wow.

Then we see this other image.... the image of a fuller and fuller's soap. A fuller is one who works with cloth.   He spends his day stomping the cloth in his vat, stretching it out on frames, beating it with feet or a club, continuing to do this until it is clean and shapely, in many cases even bleached white.  He keeps working the fabric, until it is the shape and size it should be.  If it's not perfect?   He goes through the whole process again.  Stretching.  Beating.  Cleaning.  Purifying.   Until it is exactly what it should be.  Perfect.

In the Gospel we see the people, the very ones who were friends of the family, the ones who probably worked and lived around Zechariah... being scared of what John represented.  All of these miracles around his birth.  His father unable to speak, but then miraculously being able to talk after naming his son in agreement with his wife and God's plan.  They were scared.  They've been waiting for the Messiah, but they aren't quite ready.   They are filled with fear.  They take all of these matters into their hearts though, and acknowledge that God is at work and has his hand on John.

I think that is our lesson for tomorrow.  That as we approach Christmas we should be asking, are we ready?  Do we realize how much of a miracle Christmas is?  How much of a miracle the Eucharist is?  Are we living a Sacramental life?  Are we opening our hearts to let Christ be born in them?  It is time for us to be serious about our walk with Christ.  God is not asking you to wait till you're clean..  He's not asking you to get your life straight first..  He is asking you to invite him in.  The Church is preparing the way.  It has shown you what you need to do.  Now it's time for you to open the doors of your heart and suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek.   You and I are the temple of the Lord.  Let Him come in.

It doesn't stop there though.  The Lord loves you right now, just the way you are.  He loves you too much to leave you that way.  Let Him then transform you.   Let him refine you.  Purify you.  Mold you. Shape you.  How do we do this?  A Sacramental life.  Receive him in the Eucharist.   Confess him in Reconciliation.  Seek His grace.  You and I cannot do this alone.  With God though, all things are possible.   Christmas is in two days.  You don't have to wait two days to have Christ born in your heart.... start today... .then ... every day continue to grow in Christ. Until we can live our lives in a way that reflects the heart of the Psalmist when he wrote:

Indeed you love truth in the heart;
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean;
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness,
that the bones you have crushed may thrill.
From my sins turn away your face
and blot out all my guilt.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervor sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.

O rescue me, God, my helper,
and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.
O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.


His servant and yours,
Brian