THIS Sunday’s readings carry the theme of joy on the season of Advent. We are joyfully awaiting the grand celebration of Christmas on which we shall commemorate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.
The gospel (Matthew 11:2-11) narrates how John the Baptist, who was in prison, sent his disciples to Jesus with the question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus had a very interesting 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.”
Noticeably, these are signs of the coming of God’s kingdom as foretold by Isaiah in the First Reading (Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10), and which were fulfilled with the coming of Jesus Christ. In other words, if Jesus was performing the works and miracles which the Old Testament prophet has envisioned as done by the Messiah, then the answer of Jesus points out to one conclusion - He is indeed the promised Savior of the world.
Jesus continued by speaking to the crowds about John the Baptist. “What did you go out to the desert to see?” he asked. “A reed swayed by the wind? Putting it in another way, a preacher who compromises on his teachings, adjusting it for convenience’s sake and saying what people wanted to hear?” Of course, the answer was no. Jesus offers another option, “...someone dressed in fine clothing?” Again the answer was no, for those who wear fine clothing live in the pomp and luxury of royal palaces while John was living a poor life in the desert, dressed in camel’s hair and feeding on locusts and wild honey.
Then Jesus advances the third and correct option, “a prophet?” He affirms that John was certainly a prophet, and even more than that. He confirms that John was the one about whom it is written, “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.”
The kingdom of Jesus which was introduced by John was thus not about a temporal earthly kingdom that rests on political acceptance, grandeur and wealth. It is an eternal heavenly kingdom which is now in our midst, and whose fullness is to be seen in the afterlife and at the end of the ages. It is a kingdom that reconciles man to God, thereby restoring the broken world and bringing about healing in all facets of human life. Literally and symbolically, it ushers an era where blind eyes are truly opened and deaf ears are cleared. Lame feet leap like a stag, and mute tongues sing. Obviously, these are occurrences in a new world order where man is liberated from the bondage of evil, and reinstated to God’s original intent and purpose.
To be sure, Jesus will come again. James, in the Second Reading (James 5:7-10), encourages us to be patient in our waiting. He challenges us, “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth by being patient with it until it receives the early and late rains. Make your hearts firm because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
A Gaudete greeting to one and all.