Monday, December 10, 2007

Matthew 11:2-11

Advent 3 – Year A

Matthew 11:2-11

The blind see and some are offended.
The lame walk and some are offended.
Lepers are cleansed and some are offended
The deaf hear and some are offended.
The dead are raised and some are offended.
The poor receive good news and some are offended.

Blessed are those who are not offended.

Another way to come at the sense of offense is to see what it requires from us. When a change of status occurs we find ourselves offended ("losing trust" from the Greek; "to strike, kill" from the Indo-European). If our status is lowered we are offended by those whom we blame. If our status is raised we are amazingly offended by those from whom we came.

At one and the same time we are attracted by the danger and offended by the presence of such as a rabble-rouser as Baptizer John. It is exciting to be in around him as he calls for such radical things as chopping at the roots of despair and rooting out root causes of poverty and unkindness. Exciting, that is, until we make the connection of what is required from us. The same is true of our response to Jesus and other prophets.

A part of our question this week is that of what we are taking offense at these days. To not take offense at something is to be asleep at the wheel. But by what are we offended? That is a significant advent question.

When things improve for the blind, lame, lepers, deaf, dead, and poor it means that I cannot live as easily as I did. If such as these do not have too little, then it may mean that I, in having much, will not have too much (I'll have less much). If such as these find themselves even worse off, then my head rests less easy for there is a revolution brewing.

Which of these states will cause me the most offense. Truth be told it is the improvement of the lot of the poor that causes the greater offense. If a revolution comes I have an excuse for my benefits – see what trouble-makers they are and not worth any further investment in their lives. It is far worse when the gap between us closes and I am called to recognize new community partners. Then all my past behavior is called into question.

Be alert to what offends you this week. Then, decide what you will do about your offense. If you are the offended party, there is advent work of new birth to do. If you note someone else being offended against, there is advent work of new justice to do. Internal or external, on our own or on another's behalf, a sense of offense sharpens our discernment of what arena of life we are called to.

May we soon live in a world that is not offensive. May we soon live without taking offense and defending those who have been offended.

Bottomline – Advent raises the questions of where our trust is based and whether or not we will strike some part of the body off of or kill offenders. What power does our sense of offense carry with it? – forgiveness and the reestablishment of trust? or separation and the further establishment of violence?

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