Sunday, 11th December 2022
Third Sunday of Advent
John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?’ Jesus answered, ‘Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’
As the messengers were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? A man wearing fine clothes? Oh no, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces. Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet: he is the one of whom scripture says:
‘Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way before you.
‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.’
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?” Matthew 11:2–3
Why did Saint John the Baptist send his disciples to Jesus to ask this question? Recall that John had previously stated about Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). So if John knew that Jesus was the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” then why would he send his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the one who is to come?
The Church Fathers explore many reasons, but most arrive at the conclusion that John did this not because he didn’t know Who Jesus was, but for the sake of his disciples, so that they would come to follow our Lord once John was killed by Herod. So this was a way of trying to point his disciples to Jesus and to encourage them to embrace this new change in their life of faith.
Jesus understood the reason John sent his disciples to Him. As a result, Jesus gave these disciples what they needed so as to come to believe themselves. He points them to the works that He has done as the Christ so that they would be able to interpret these works on their own and, thus, come to the newness of faith. Jesus points out that 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. Who could argue with such miraculous signs from Heaven? But Jesus goes even further and states something very subtle. He says, “And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” This line appears to be one way that Jesus gently reproached these disciples for what appears to be their own personal struggle with this change of spiritual leaders. Jesus identified a certain “offense” that they were dealing with. They were “offended” by the fact that Jesus was indeed increasing while John was decreasing.
In many ways, this is a common experience any time there is a change in our spiritual lives. When something is new, we often struggle with various aspects of the change and newness. But the Christian life is all about change, transformation and newness of life. And this is good. We must seek to change, be transformed, build better and new relationships, learn new ways of loving and reaching out, and become very comfortable with any and every new experience that our Lord places in our lives.
Reflect, today, upon any way that you have struggled with changes in your spiritual life. Oftentimes, those things we struggle with are actually glorious opportunities to live our Christian faith and charity on a new level. Seek out the changes God is calling you to embrace in your life and know that even if they are difficult, they are the surest pathway to a life of greater holiness for you.
Dear Lord, I know You call me to embrace the newness of life and the changes that I must endure so as to follow You more faithfully. Help me to be open to all that You call me to so that I will continually become a new creation in Your grace. Jesus, I trust in You.