“Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.”
If we have been watching television over the past several weeks we may have encountered a twenty-four days of Christmas programming marathon. Twenty-four days of non-stop Christmas movies and shows. Among the shows we will certainly encounter Dickenson’s “A Christmas Carol.”
As we recall, his former partner, Jacob Marley, first visits Scrooge. Marley is fettered in heavy chains that he drags behind him. He tells Scrooge that he created these chains throughout his life by his lack of charity and love. We immediately understand and connect. We see our sins and failings as heavy chains that bind us, that prevent us from reaching heavenward.
Jesus told John’s disciples: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”
In sin we are the poorest of the poor. We are blind. We are crippled. We become deaf to the call of love. We reap the wages of sin, which is death. Amidst all this Jesus comes to save us.
Jesus’ salvation is an ongoing grace in our lives. In Him we find the One who will break the chains that bind us. In Him we find clear vision. In Him we are healed. In Him our ears are opened. In Him we find the guarantee of freedom from death and the hope of resurrection.
Jesus’ offer of salvation requires our cooperation. We have to be willing to lift up the chains that bind us. If we lift them before Him and His Holy Church, and ask forgiveness, He will free us. If we ask Him to hear us in the sacrament of penance, which He entrusted to His ministers, we will be forgiven for: “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would strengthen feeble hands and knees and give strength to the frightened. He would come with vindication – freeing us from the accusation brought about by our sin. He would exonerate us completely by paying the price for us.
Jesus came to save you and me. He came to free us, to take the weight from our shoulders, our hands, and our hearts. He came so in freedom we would be ready to stand before Him at His coming.