See The Salvation of God

forgiveSaved by the bell! The firefighter saved the baby from sure death. The relief pitcher saved the game. We hear the word “save” frequently in our everyday chatter, and know immediately what it means: to be rescued from a bad situation, from danger, from an unwanted outcome. This Sunday’s gospel doesn’t have the word “save,” but instead “salvation.” What does it mean to “see the salvation of God” that Isaiah the prophet foretold? Here the meaning of “save” is not quite so straightforward. Much more is promised than being rescued. In fact, what the gospel is about is not so much being saved from as being saved by and for.
Let’s be honest: it’s not just the busyness of Christmas preparations now in full December fury that distract us from our ongoing work of repentance and forgiveness. Every day of the year we tend to be distracted by mountains of work, paths of indecision, valleys of doubt and fear. Like John the Baptist, we are to hear “the word of God” that comes to us, that challenges us to embrace a more Godlike way of living, that not only promises salvation, but shows us the path to it.
Changing our lives to live more faithfully Gospel values is not easy. Nor do we ever get to a point in our daily living when we have arrived at the mountaintop and no longer need to act on God’s word, change our minds about what is most important to us, open ourselves to God’s forgiveness of our wrongdoing and learn how we in turn forgive others. This is the path to salvation. Not an easy one. But a rewarding one.