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Joe Hoover, S.J.December 08, 2023
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Saturday of the First Week of Advent

Find today’s readings here.

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.(Mt. 9:35)

Jesus enters the synagogues and tells the people that God is with them, really and truly. That now is the time of their salvation. That God wants good things for them; he wants them to live in freedom and joy.

Jesus then goes out into the streets and backs up his words with deeds.

Imagine if Jesus had merely spoken about love and mercy, with no actions that demonstrated love and mercy. He might go down in history as a great wisdom figure, a splendid orator, a mystical religious poet. And that would be wonderful. But the world has had plenty of these.

Jesus brought together word and deed—he comforted souls and healed bodies.

And imagine if Jesus only healed people physically. He might come off to the Israelites as a miraculous physician: a remarkable figure who for three years worked great deeds, leaving people better physically than they were before. But did those healed people become…better people? Did they receive a startling message that penetrated not only their flesh but their hearts and minds as well, that God’s love made this happen? God’s enduring, unyielding, irrepressible love was what healed them? And not merely the wand-waving of a metaphysical doctor?

In fact, Jesus was that rare figure who did both of these things. Jesus brought together word and deed—he comforted souls and healed bodies. He made his preaching credible with his love in action. When Christians are able to wed their belief in the mercy of God to acts of mercy itself, they are spreading the Gospel.

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