Not What You Expected!Fr. Barnabas Powell
The story goes like this: A young man sees a beautiful woman and he desires to make her his wife. All the while, his best friend from childhood, the little girl next door, secretly has grown to love the man. As she watches him not see her as a potential mate and watches as he wastes his life and time pursuing this woman who doesn’t really care for him at all, her heart breaks.
Finally, after attempting to win this woman, the man wakes up to what has been his all along and the two best friends become a family and live happily ever after! Cut! Print! The next Hollywood, feel good, love story!
Well, maybe not, since this story has been done over and over again. It’s just part of our human story that we all too often discover that the real answer to our longings and our desires isn’t in that “greener pasture” but right under our noses the whole time. At least that’s what Dorothy discovered at the end of the Wizard of Oz!
Some of life’s most surprising revelations come when I wake up to what I already possess. But even being told “Hey, it’s right here! Here’s your answer! Here’s your path” we still can’t or won’t believe it.
In our Gospel Lesson today we see a priest being told an incredible truth and still, he can’t believe it! The lesson is found in Luke 1:5-25. It’s the story of Zacharias, the father of St. John the Baptist, being visited by the Angel Gabriel, and told that, his barren wife and he would have a son and that this child would prepare the way for the Messiah!
Let’s look at how this priest reacted to the Angel’s announcement: And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
Now before you get the wrong idea, this wasn’t to punish Zacharias, it was to invite him to embrace, through the medicine of silence, the spiritual healing in his own soul AND to be a sign and witness to his whole family and the nation of God’s impending blessing. It’s too easy to fall into the slander against God that He is “punishing” us when actually He is inviting us to a powerful healing by His loving work in our lives. It is always that old Liar that is trying to convince us that God really isn’t good.
But God wants us free from the delusion of spiritual blindness, so He works in His world in amazing ways to wake us up from the lethargy of our own self-sufficiency. He does what is unexpected. He uses what is right under our noses to invite us to enter into His life and His peace. He offers us the way that absolutely obliterates the power of even difficult times to destroy us by planting seeds of “Light” and “Peace” right in the middle of our challenges and struggles. The unexpected is only unexpected if we are blind to God’s goodness to us!
When we “wake up” to His presence, when we dare to believe that He truly is “everywhere Present and filling all things”, we discover right under our noses the absolute joy of His provision for every aspect of our lives! Not even the devil’s best shot is exempt from His power to turn every moment into a revelation of His love! Thanks be to God.
Today, where does your life feel “barren” and devoid of life? Where are you empty and what do you fear in your life will never change? Look closely! Pray. Immerse yourself in the rhythm of the life of the Church, and watch as God, in His eternal love for you, uncovers before your eyes the path of rest, freedom, and peace right in the middle of whatever challenge you are facing. Let’s trade our spiritual blindness to His loving Presence, for a blindness to the lies of our fears! Let’s see Him and Him alone so that, by Him, we can see all things! Not what you expected, eh?
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