3rd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 35:1-6, 10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11;
Two brothers are terrible trouble makers. They are always breaking things, stealing things, lying, and making all kinds of general trouble. The parents have tried everything to get the boys to change, to no avail. Finally, out of options, they ask their pastor if he can help. He says he will talk to the boys, but only one at a time. The parents drop off the youngest and go home, promising to return to get him soon. The boy sits in a chair across from the pastor’s desk and they just look at each other. Finally, the Pastor says, “Where is God?” The boy just sits there and doesn’t answer. The pastor begins to look stern and loudly says, “Where is God?” The little boy shifts in his seat, but still doesn’t answer. The pastor is starting to get angry at the boy’s refusal to converse and practically shouts “Where is God?” To the pastor’s surprise, the little boy jumps up out of his chair and runs out of the office. The boy leaves the church and runs all the way home, up the stairs and into his brother’s room. He shuts the door and pants, “We’re in BIG TROUBLE. God’s missing and they think we did it!”
Dear friends! In today’s gospel we see, John the Baptist in big trouble. John had spent his whole life preparing to announce Christ and as we heard last Sunday he proclaimed what the Messiah that he was not even worthy to carry Jesus’ sandals and In today’s gospel we see John sending his disciples with this question, “Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?” What is going on here? Is John the Baptist now losing faith in Jesus?
John the Baptist’s hopes in Jesus seemed not to be fulfilled. He was in prison because he preached the word of God, the truth about marriage and life-long fidelity to one’s spouse. We can easily understand his question, “Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?”
Like John we too sometimes feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. Every day the news reports about death in Iraq, violence in the Middle East, genocide in Africa, natural disasters in Asia and South America. Every day thousands of babies are killed by abortion, innocent women and children are sold into slavery on the black market, people who seem to have everything plunge into despair and commit suicide. Through no fault of our own we find ourselves in some difficulty or fix. And we wonder where is Jesus! And we too feel like sending messengers to him saying, “Are you the Messiah? Are you going to help me or will you leave me helpless?”
Jesus sent back the messengers to John the Baptist with this 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”. That is Jesus’ message to us also. Look around you and see the presence of God despite the difficulty you are in. Look around you and see the blind seeing again, the lame walking, lepers being cleansed, the deaf hearing, and the dead being raised to life.
Remember the last line of the message Jesus sent back to John in prison, “blessed is the one who takes no offense at me” some other translation puts it this way, “‘happy the man who does not lose faith in me’. When we are in prison like John, between a rock and a hard place, in some difficulty or fix, let us continue to trust and pray and not lose faith in Jesus. Let us continue to pray. Prayer is always answered somehow, somewhere, even if not in the way we expected. Keep sending messengers to Jesus looking for an answer to the problem. And we will get an answer, even if not what we expected. But let us keep trusting in God.
When our hopes are dashed let us turn to Jesus. He is the answer to all our hopes and dreams. He will not let us down.