Intention: We pray for a faith-filled and transforming Christmastime for our world, one that fills us with peace, justice, and good will toward all.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 11:2-11
When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
A Short Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent
Today’s Gospel presents us with an interesting and somewhat startling picture of John the Baptist. In it, John sends word from his prison cell to his followers to ask Jesus, “Are you really the one who is to come?” Why would the hand-chosen precursor and baptizer of the Messiah ask this? What could it mean that he, of all people, might have doubts? Perhaps we might consider that, while John posed the question, he really wasn’t asking for himself. One of the reasons that John figures so prominently in the Advent season’s readings is that his story connects us to the long, almost unbearable anticipation of an entire nation for the arrival of God’s Kingdom. Perhaps the purpose of his question is to acknowledge all those generations of disappointment and doubt, and then to give voice to the tentative faith of a bruised people that wants to believe but perhaps is not quiet sure how. Jesus’ response may offer a clue: believe your eyes and ears, and do not be afraid to trust me. In other words, do not rely on your own poor wisdom to grasp what is happening here. Remember God’s promise. Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” For the fullness of redemption to find us, it is up to us to let go of the pain of the past and give ourselves fully to the here and now of God’s Kingdom calling to us. The time of Advent is a time to replace the question, “Are you the one who is to come?” with the question, “Will we be the ones who follow?”
Eternal Father, our days are filled with anticipation of the coming of your Son. In all of our hurriedness, may we make time to be still. In all of our distractedness, may we take time to look and see. Help us to recognize his approach in the persons and events of our lives. May our greeting be one of gratitude and of welcome, giving praise that we have been so generously blessed. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.”