What Are We Going to See?
The gospel reading for the third week in advent is Matthew 1:2-11.
Sometimes, I really do love to watch HGTV. Scratch that. Most of the time, I really do love to watch HGTV. There’s always a plain-looking house with frumpy, old-fashioned décor that then gets prettied up to have “Spacious walk-in closets” and “great spaces for entertaining!” There’s the added bonus that many of the people who host these shows are not unattractive. Regardless, I go to see the shiny updates of where people live, and the hilarious reactions they have to popcorn ceilings, or carpet that does not match their exact preference.
Jesus is a Messiah who cares for the downtrodden and those who are overlooked by the crowds in general
In this passage from Matthew, there is a proclamation sent from Jesus to John the Baptist that “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” These are, according to Jesus, the signs that he is the true Messiah and that he is the one that is anticipated. All of these signs point to the fact that Jesus is a Messiah who cares for the downtrodden and those who are overlooked by the crowds in general.
Jesus then talks to the crowd about what they were doing there, and what it is they wanted to watch. He asks “what, then, did you go out and see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.” That is a big difference in comfort level for the gathered crowds between viewing some bigwig in a fancy robe, and seeing the miracles done to those that they might view as not worthy.
I am... the one Jesus is talking about, wearing the soft robes in fancy places.
If we are in the place of the gathered crowd, it is good to remember what it is that we choose to watch. It is comfortable for me to distance myself from those in pain or in need of healing or good news by watching light-hearted shows about home renovation. It is comfortable for me to say that because I cannot afford granite countertops or dual sink vanities, that I am not the one Jesus is talking about, wearing the soft robes in fancy places.
But we need to do more than be comfortable. It seems silly to compare watching home renovation shows to being in a crowd and listening to the words of Jesus, but there is truth in how we choose what to see. We need to see more than just the shininess and the soft robes. We need to look beyond our royal palaces and open plan kitchens to the places that make us uncomfortable to look at. The places of poverty and sickness and never ending bad news. May our eyes be opened to what we need to see and what we ought to work toward.
- How can we focus more on what we need to see?
- What are ways to see past our individual lives?
- What books or shows made you more aware of something you had not seen before?
- What do people see when they look at you?