Quinquagesima, The Seventh Sunday of the Year B
Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25
Psalm 41:1-2, 3-4, 12-13
2 Corinthians 1:18-22
Christ, the Father’s Yes
“The Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you . . . was not Yes and No; but in Him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him” (2 Cor 1:19-20). Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Father’s Yes to every yearning inscribed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Christ is the Father’s Yes to every prayer of ours for healing, the Father’s Yes to every cry of ours in the night, the Father’s Yes even to the petitions we dare not formulate “for we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8:26). When the Holy Spirit himself “intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Rom 8:26), Christ is the Father’s Yes to every one of those sighs. Christ is the Father’s Yes to the inward groanings of those who hope for what is not yet seen (cf. Rom 8:24-25). Christ is the Father’s Yes to all the promises made “by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old” (Lk 1:70).
Through Christ our Lord
The prophet is the mouthpiece of God, the living bearer of His Word, the emissary charged with delivering the promises of God to “those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (Lk 1:79). And Christ is the Yes to those promises: their guarantee and their fulfillment. “That is why,” says the Apostle, “we utter the Amen through Him to the glory of God” (2 Cor 1:20). This, the Church has done from the beginning and continues to do in every age. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Receive the Promises of God
Those who refuse to let go of the past are not disposed to receive the promises of God. Their heads and their hearts are so full of what is old, that there is no room in them for what is new. What does God say, speaking today through His prophet? “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Is 43:19).
The Mercies of the Lord
Does that mean that we are to practice a kind of self-induced amnesia? Absolutely not. This is not about repression. To forget means to put away. Before something can be put away, it has to be found. The same God who says, “Remember not!” never tires of saying, “Remember!” O glorious paradox! “Remember the wonderful works that He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He uttered” (Ps 104:5). And in another place the psalmist says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Ps 102:2). We are to remember the mercies of the Lord and let go of all the rest. Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo. The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever (Ps 88:1).
We are to let go of all those things that impede our going forward to claim the promises of God. We are to let go of all those things that oppose a no to Christ in whom all the promises of God find their Yes (cf. 2 Cor 1:19-20). This letting go allows the fragile green shoot of hope to break through the crusty hardness of a heart whose winter has gone on for too long.
Attachment to Christ Jesus
At the same time, we are to hold fast to the remembrance of God’s mercies. Day after day we are sing of the promises of God fulfilled in Christ. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. Amen. Amen.
These are God’s promises to us, delivered through the mouth of Isaias His prophet today:
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert . . . for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise (Is 43:20-21).
Every promise of God blossoms into praise. The designs of God have a doxological finality: the vast designs of cosmic proportions, and the little ones hidden in the life stories of the least of Christ’s brethren. Faith in the promises of God flowers into an indefectible hope, and the fruit of hope is praise.
And He Rose
The God who promises “a new thing” (Is 43:19) tells us precisely how He will go about it: “I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Is 43:25). “And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:5). Fix your gaze on the Face of Christ and read there the Yes to all the promises of God! And lest any lingering doubt remain, “He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.’ And he rose. . . .” (Mk 2:10-12). And he rose.
The Promise of Resurrection
Fifty days before Pascha on this Quinquagesima Sunday, Our Lord speaks a word of spiritual resurrection. This is the word of hope that we are to remember and carry in our hearts: the promise of a resurrection from the pallet where we lay immobilized and paralyzed by the burdens and sins of “former things, of the things of old” (Is 43:18). “Behold,” says God, “I am doing a new thing . . . a new thing in you, a new thing for you, a new thing among you, a new thing through you. . . now it springs forth, do you not perceive it” (cf. Is 43:19).
To all of this, Christ, knowing our weakness and our fears, says Yes for us. To His Yes, to the Yes that He is, we have only to say, “Amen.” And for this we go to the altar to sing, “our Amen through Him to the glory of God” (2 Cor 1:20). “Through Him, and with Him, and in Him. . . . Amen.” And then, “The Body of Christ. Amen.” The Most Holy Eucharist is Christ, the Yes of God, on our tongues and in our mouths. The Body of Christ is the Yes of God in our hearts. “The Body of Christ. Amen.”