THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
If John had announced the Christ, why is he sending his disciples to find out if Jesus is the one who is to come? Is he doubting his faith in what he believed was his life’s work? That could be, but the only thing we really know is that Jesus isn’t doing the things that John expected the Messiah to do, so he’s confused. John’s expectations were that the Messiah would come with an all-consuming judgment (Matthew 3:11-12). In response to the query, Jesus simply says, “Go tell John what you see and hear.” I am reminded of a father comforting his young son after one of the terrorist attacks in France last year. The boy was worried about getting caught in such violence, and his father said to him, “Go to where there is good being done.” That is what Jesus is saying in his response: “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.” In essence, he’s saying, “Look at the good that is being done.”
The Baptist’s experience is sometimes our own. There are days we are absolutely convinced that Jesus is the One. Then there are days we experience utter doubt regarding the ways of the Lord. Sometimes we can be imprisoned by our own attitudes and expectations about God, about our faith, or about the way things should be in the world. When we hear the message of good news – like “love your enemies” or “pray for those who persecute you” – we can become confused. We look at the state of the world, and we may wonder if this “love your enemies” thing is really the best way to respond. Yet Jesus is pretty clear in what he says and calls his disciples to. We’ll hear it in the course of this liturgical year: “what I desire is mercy, not sacrifice”; “you are the light of the world, salt of the earth”; “treat others the way you would want to be treated”; “forgive one another.” What Jesus is saying in all of this is that we are to be the ones where others find good being done.
During this Advent season, we wait in joyful anticipation for the One who is our hope and the cause of our joy, the One who is Goodness itself. We pray, too, that this Goodness will be incarnated within us such that “feeble hands will be strengthened, weak knees made firm, and frightened hearts will know beyond any doubt that our God comes to save us,” (Isaiah 35:3-4) leaving no question that Jesus is the one who is to come.
When has my faith, attitude, or expectations been challenged?
How am I called to do good so that others might see Christ in their midst?
Jesus, you are the One for whom we wait and the One who has already come. Open our minds and hearts to your presence in our midst. Open our eyes to the good being done around us and in the world. Open our mouths and hands that the good we proclaim and do reflects the promise of what is to come in the fullness of your Reign.
Kindle The Fire : Advent Preaching By Dominican Women Afire