Wednesday, Second Week in Advent

by Matthew B. Harper

When I saw him I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one:” (Revelation 1:17-18)

I have feared the courts, the judges, and the authorities. I have feared the condemnation of my friends and family. I have feared the pain of my victims, not just the direct victims of my crimes; but also so many collateral victims. Everybody who has been touched by my crimes, even police, judges, and the prison guards are victims. When I first saw the movie ‘The Passion” I was captivated not just by the graphic portrayal of what Christ endured, but by the unspeakable pain on the faces of the two Mary’s. I see the pain on Jesus’ mother’s face, and I think to the painful cries from my mother and fiancé on the day that I was sentenced. I think of what my parents endure everyday that I am in prison. They are my victims in new ways on every missed holiday, on every missed birthday, on every day.

The pain of Mary before the cross was not just the pain of a mother seeing the torture of her son. She, better than any of us, knows the amazing divine identity of Jesus. She sees not just the infant she nursed and raised, but she also sees her God abused and crucified. It is her faith, her hope, and her God that is hung on the cross and killed.

But it was allowed by God, and only for a time. Fear not. Christ is the Living One. Holy. Eternal. Resurrected Savior. The Christ born this Christmas is beyond time, before it and after it, eternally reigning with the Father; he died and conquered death.

Christ hung on the cross for all the crimes that I have done, but Christ came down to live with all of the victims, and to bring healing to them and to me. Fear not Mary; Fear not us, Christ is here.

Herald, sound the note of judgment, warning us of right and wrong, turning us from sin and sadness till once more we sing the song. (Hymn 70)

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