Vol. 6, No. 14
Daughters of Mary Commentary
6 December 2016
Fr. James N. Dean
Matthew 11: 2-11
Jewish tradition expected the Messiah to make everything perfect when he arrived!
That is why John’s imprisonment caused such consternation among his disciples… If Jesus is the Messiah and John is His forerunner, why is he in prison? And it did not take a lot of imagination to see that Jesus was saying some of the same things that John had said, so it may not be long before Jesus joins His cousin behind bars. As we know it was much worse than that – Jesus followed John in prison and in death!!
And in our Gospel today, we have that puzzling question: “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?’”
Wait a minute… did John not know that Jesus was the Messiah?
John had leapt for joy in the womb of his mother at the sound of Mary’s greeting to Elizabeth at the time of the Visitation, so near was his salvation. John was humbled when Jesus asked to be baptized by him – saying that he should be baptized by Jesus and that he was not worthy to unfasten nor carry Jesus’ sandals!! Then after the baptism, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended as the Father spoke from Heaven, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
Is that NOT clear enough?? How could John ask that question of Jesus??
Maybe John was not asking the question for himself… What if John told his disciples to go ask Jesus if He is the Messiah, not because John did not know the answer, but that his disciples needed to find out the answer!!
After being with Jesus, hearing Him and seeing some of the miracles He was performing, they asked, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
Jesus replied, “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.”
Report what YOU see and hear! Obviously, this cohort did not just appear on the scene and ask Jesus this question. They watched Him, heard Him preach, and then spoke to Him. And how blessed they were to see what they saw.
Jesus once told His Apostles, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:23-24, first Tuesday in Advent)
And the same is true today, many long to see and hear Him… and many are disturbed and ask, “Why do good people suffer?” and “Why does evil prosper?”
Every day the news reports about death from wars and violence in the Middle East and other places, natural disasters in Asia and South America… and even terrorism that has touched our shores!
Every day thousands of babies in the US are killed by abortion, students lives were recently threathened at Ohio State (when 11 were injured), people who seem to have everything plunge into despair and commit suicide.
And it is right in the midst of this suffering world that we celebrate this 3rd Sunday of Advent – called “Gaudete” Sunday, the Sunday of Rejoicing.
The dark night in which the world waited helplessly for its Savior is coming to an end; Christmas is drawing closer; we will soon celebrate Jesus’s birthday.
• Christ himself is the sun that lights up the dark night sky, and he is drawing near; the horizon is beginning to glow with His divine light with its healing rays.
Is it foolish to rejoice in the middle of such a suffering world? Not at all.
• We do not rejoice because we believe Jesus came to bring heaven down to earth… Earth will never be a Utopia, whereby all is well and right.
• Rather, we rejoice because we know that Jesus came from Heaven to earth to open a path from earth into Heaven.
• The joy of the Christian is the joy of a hope guaranteed by God himself. This true joy has Christ as its source, not the world!
And we must be witnesses of Christ’s presence and promises in a world that does not see by the light of faith nor perceive the hope of Heaven because of the shadows and darkness that sometimes fill it.
And our best witness to this hope is JOY!! As St. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say it, rejoice!!” (Phil 4:4)
The question I ask you is, “How can each of us be light-filled signs of Heavenly hope?”