20 Dec A Mystery: The Binding of the Broken-Hearted
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointedme to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up thebrokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darknessfor the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1
People are often wrong about what will provide authentic hope and healing.
In ancient Rome, the suggested remedy for rabies was to apply raw beefand drink hog’s fat. Third-century doctors treated malaria with a paper bibfeaturing the magic word “Abracadabra.” Not so long ago, doctors recommendedcigarettes for asthma relief.
In today’s reading, Isaiah describes Israel as an ailing nation. In sin,they refused to allow their loving Creator to guide their lives. As a result,the whole community was like a patient covered in wounds and festering sores.From the outside, foreign invaders bruised and battered their borders. On theinside, open rebellion against God and his will led to stony, broken hearts.
We share sin’s symptoms with God’s people from 3,000 years ago. We toostumble through this world covered with spiritual open sores. Loneliness.Anxiety. Envy. Indifference. Doubt. Rebellion. Like Isaiah’s hearers, we rejectGod’s guidance as outdated or irrelevant. Like them, we often devour mankind’sfickle prescriptions for contentment and peace. Divorced from Scriptural truth,these earthly therapies are empty. We so easily discard heaven-sent medicineand try to mend broken hearts with lard and tobacco.
When they refused the Lord’s instructions, Israel earned defeat byforeign invaders. For generations, most of God’s people were hostages in afaraway land. Because of our sins, we each deserve a more permanent penalty.Hell. Eternity apart from God. A fatal, inescapable, broken heart. This wouldbe the just punishment for our willful disobedience.
But in Chapter 61, Isaiah promises one absolute antidote: Jesus Christ.What does the prophet mean when he says the Son of God is coming to bind ourbroken hearts? Fully divine and fully human, Jesus alone bandages our spiritualsores. His holy life and undeserved death on the cross repair the damage thisworld cannot. Only his perfect innocence provides the everlasting comfort werequire. His sacrifice brings genuine healing to the helpless. His Eastertriumph over the grave cures us completely and invites us into heaven forever.These miracles are the blessed mystery that we welcome anew each Advent.
Your cross, O Christ, is my sole source of spiritual health. Take methere to recognize my weakness. Let me leave filled with the strength you wonfor me. Amen.