I know that it is Monday, but I am still steeping in Sunday’s readings. I kind of can’t get my head out of them. These are amazing Scriptures, but there is another reason that they are rattling around in my head and heart.
On Saturday night, my husband Mark and I went to see Man of LaMancha at Capital Rep. If you have not seen this show, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is a gem of catholicity!
In our first reading from Isaiah, we heard about comfort and about how God comforts his people.
Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.
So beautifully put. Guilt expiated and receiving double from the Lord for all of her sins. That’s us, you know. God is forever beckoning us close, to comfort and reconcile us. Can we accept this?
The Gospel is one that focuses on John the Baptist – that very voice in the wilderness, making way for the Lord. As an aside, I often think of John as the kind of person you would never want to be sitting next to on the NYC subway. And that is a reminder to me that who I think is “OK” or not is subject to my flawed view; we are all God’s creation and beloved in God’s eyes.
In any case, the Gospel is clear – John is the messenger, making known who will come! We must pay attention to this kind of nut-case type to find that out.
So what all does this have to do with Man of LaMancha? In this excellent play – a story of the transformative power of hope and love – we meet 3 main characters. We have Don Quixote, the Man of LaMancha himself. He is a somewhat crazy herald of hope and of love – one who transforms with is vision. Sancho Panza is his sidekick and servant. And we have Aldonza, a prostitute who Don Quixote sees as his beloved Dulcinea. He believes in her goodness and light.
The story reminds me of the place in between – as do the Scriptures. Hope seems like a passive virtue when combined with waiting, as we are asked to do in Advent. Yet it is not passive at all – or it does not have to be passive, that may be a better way to put it. Hope lived out in the place in between is where all the action is. Isaiah knew this, John the Baptist knew this and Don Quixote knew this as well.
Don Quixote offered Aldonza comfort and hope, expiating her sins. Sancho was loyal to Don Quixote and Aldonza was transformed by love. This is what we are asked to do. Why is it so hard to do so?
Here is a clip of Richard Kiley singing The Impossible Dream. When I hear the lyrics about scorning a man covered with scars, I can only think of Jesus. Wrong season, but if we want to to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we should always have His death near our hearts as well.
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