Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume

Last week we reflected on God’s wake-up calls. God is diligent at wake-up calls. He gives us this opportunity of Advent in advance so that we may be prepared. He gave us the first coming of His Son, His life and word as model so we may live awake, active, and expectant for His return.

This week we reflect on His proclamation – proclamation of a truth people so often wish to avoid for God does things in vastly different ways.

Consider the words of Isaiah. Would anyone expect the wolf, lamb, leopard, kid, calf, and lion to live and eat together in peace, guided by a child. Would anyone expect a baby to play together with snakes. Could we believe that a day will dawn where there is no ruin or harm? That’s the thing. It sounds all so great, and fanciful, and maybe someday – but you’ve got to be kidding me. Look at the world today!

God isn’t fooling! Those pretty words from Isaiah that begin in justice for the oppressed and right judgment for the afflicted, the casting down of the wicked and ruthless are God’s design and proclamation. He has told us, His faithful, that this is the way it shall be. This is what we must endeavor to bring about. This is the Kingdom life!

Paul tells us this was: written for our instruction, endurance, and encouragement so that we might have hope. This was written down as our instruction manual so that we might break down artificial barriers and preconceived notions. Who would think that the gentiles might be co-heirs? God did. Thus we rejoice for the gift we have been given in Jesus.

Each of the characters of Christmas brought a part of God’s proclamation. The prophets gave the wake-up call. The angels exceedingly rejoiced in God’s gift of His Son, Jesus. John, the Forerunner, proclaimed the way it must be by God’s design. John came in advance. He picked up sinners (lions, leopards, wolves) so they could eat and rest together with the lambs, kids, calves, and children. Those who confessed were freed. John held out the truth to those who wanted to pretend that things wouldn’t change. Who warned you, he said. He called them to change.

God’s proclamation is God’s reality, His truth. He provided it in advance. Advent gives us the chance to live up to His vastly different way.


The challenge.
The reaction.

So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When He disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.

The Apostles had gone out as directed by Jesus. In faithfulness to Him they preached the gospel and healed the sick. They had returned to Jesus to report all that they had done. They filled Jesus in. Certainly they were both excited and exhausted. As a good spiritual leader would do to this very day, Jesus invites them to come away to a quiet place where they can pray and rest. Here’s where Jesus experiences the full brunt of His humanity. He could not get away. People kept coming in need of His teaching and healing. They were hungry for God’s word, something the leaders of the day could not provide. Jesus and His Apostles were so engaged that they couldn’t even eat.

Finally, there was opportunity – they could get to their boat and could head off to a quiet, deserted, peaceful place. Those moments of prayer and rest were at hand. The best laid plans… they arrive and waiting for them is an even larger throng of people.

We know Jesus’ reaction: His heart was moved with pity for them… and He began to teach them many things. We might wonder if the Apostles reacted in the same way? We know what it is like; can place ourselves in the situation. They were expecting alone time with Jesus – rest and prayer. We can easily understand their frustration, they might even have been angry.

Jesus’ actions are our first challenge. How do we react when confronted by the unexpected, when our personal wants, desires, and expectations are frustrated, when God’s way counters against what we want? Do we follow Him?

This is a very pertinent question in today’s world. We are called to act as Jesus would act. His actions and words, God’s way of life naturally fits with proper human desires. Seeing a mass of people in need we naturally want to help – at least deep inside. Yet selfishness gets in the way. Our battle is to overcome personal selfishness, having things our way, and in the process conforming ourselves to His way.

It comes down to how we react to challenge. Our Facebook friends tell us – this is the way the world should be. Our colleagues at work say – don’t bother. Politicians demonize anyone who disagrees. Our gut check is Jesus’ way as given us by Scripture, Church teaching, and Tradition. Acting in accord with Him we meet the challenge.