Divine and Payback

“With divine recompense He comes to save you.” —Isaiah 35:4

Often I hear people express their impression that when God comes into their life, He will come with payback; they expect that He will come to repay each person according to their sins and failings with punishment and judgment. Similarly, St. John the Baptizer expected God to come as One mighty in judgment (Mt 3:10-11).

Next Sunday’s Scripture readings, and in fact the entire Gospel, proclaim a different message: God will come with mercy, kindness, and even vindication (see e.g. Ti 3:4ff). John the Baptizer expected a Messiah who would execute judgment (Mt 3:10-11). Apparently, many in the world expect the same. John himself was austere and severe. He was quite surprised that Jesus came as a gentle Rabbi, yet still One Who performed the miraculous works of God. John expected the cleansing fire of swift divine judgment, prophesying that “the chaff He will burn in unquenchable fire” (Mt 3:12). But John was surprised to find Jesus manifesting both power and humility (Mt 11:2ff).

Sunday’s “Gaudete” (Rejoice) readings show a great cause to celebrate amidst the solemn waiting of Advent. God comes with kindness and mercy. He comes with both humility and justice to save. He pays back a sinful world with “divine recompense”; “He comes to save you” (Is 35:4).

Now the question is: will you rejoice and accept His merciful salvation, or will you refuse the season of mercy the Lord offers and settle for divine judgment?

PRAYER: Father, change my heart to humbly receive whatever You wish to give me.

PROMISE: “Blest is the man who finds no stumbling block in Me.” —Mt 11:6

PRAISE: “He is the God of the living, not of the dead. You are very much mistaken” (Mk 12:27). Risen Jesus, thank You for opening our eyes to truth.

(From a reflection by a member of the editorial team of the late Fr Al Lauer’s Presentation Ministries)

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John Portelli

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