Second Sunday of Advent
MT 3:1-12
December 8, 2019

As we began the second week of this Advent season, I am beginning the third week after total knee replacement surgery. The experience has truly become the lens through which I’m examining this liturgical season of joyful preparation for the feast of Christmas.

It seems to me that there have been three stages to this process of orthopedic surgery, each with its own challenges, goals, and expectations, as well as results. The first stage was pre-surgery preparations. The second stage was the surgery and recovery mode. Finally, the place I am at right now…rehabilitation. So, how can I possibly learn anything about Advent from knee replacement surgery?

As I see it, John the Baptist was in charge of “pre-habilitation.” His role in salvation history certainly involved the announcement to the Jewish people that the Messiah had arrived. But his role did not end by gathering people around Jesus and declaring Him to be the Lamb of God. John’s call to repent has echoed throughout the centuries and remains as relevant today as then…possibly even more so as humankind finds ever increasing distractions from the direction in which God calls us. It’s important to remember that when John shouted out to his listeners: REPENT! he wasn’t just asking for “contrition.” John’s pre-habilitation program involved a radical rejection of all those distractions that keep us from being what God created us to be.

Jesus ushered in the next phase of the process of salvation. Baptism is a little like a surgical procedure that cuts away what is broken or diseased. Freed from what causes spiritual disability, we move forward in the restored health of God’s grace. But the process does not end there.

Post-surgery rehabilitation is critical to a successful procedure. Post-Baptism Spiritual rehabilitation is essential to continue the process of recovery from the original sin. Exercising our faith through the Sacraments, staying close to and participating in the Christian community, and acts of discipleship are all ways of ensuring that we continually grow stronger in faith, hope, and love.The Holy Spirit is very much in charge of our post-Baptism spiritual rehabilitation. Moreover, just like those who have undergone joint replacement must continue with the strengthening exercises throughout their life or regress…the same holds true with the process of conversion.

My recent surgery has really been the lens through which I am in examining this Advent Season. What lens has God sent you to see and better understand the beauty of the season of joyful expectation?

Repent! Recover! Rehab! And REJOICE! Salvation is at hand.