Gospel Reflection: Third Sunday of Advent
Malvern Minute

 

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

DECEMBER 11, 2016 

Alleluia, alleluia.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 

because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

Alleluia, alleluia.

 

A Reading from the holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 11: 2-11

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?

Jesus said to them in 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.  And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
What did you go out to the desert to see?  A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?  Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.  Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?  Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.  This is the one about whom it is written: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.  Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

REFLECTION:

John the Baptist’s question which he raises in today’s Gospel of Saint Matthew is not an act of disbelief on his part, but a sincere prayerful request for clarity:  Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?

John’s inquiry is being made in the context of the Jews’ growing desire for the promised Anointed One, the Messiah of God.  Becoming aware of the works of the Christ, John would have naturally called to mind the words of the Prophet Isaiah.  In like fashion, the Church provides as our First Reading (Isaiah 35: 1-6) the relevant passage from Isaiah that predicted that the One to be sent would make all things new:

            Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared;   

then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.

It seems that today more and more people in their confusion are asking the question that John asks: Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?  However, while our secularized culture uses the same words, their meaning and intension is different.  People of our time, seem to be very comfortable with putting religions and their religious founders into the same box.  They say: Are not all religions the same?  Isn’t Jesus Christ just one among other holy people?   In a retreat that I was conducting, a similar question was raised: Is it possible that the writings of the other religions and their founders are equal to our Scriptures and Jesus?

True biblical faith makes room for questions.  True faith struggles with doubt, fear and uncertainty.  Here on earth, faith is a perpetual journey, an on-going search for the divine.  There is evidence to support our confession of faith, but there will always be challenges and ambiguity that haunt the certainty of our faith.  However, our search is more validly and fruitfully perused in the context of our Judeo-Christian tradition.  That is what Jesus told John the Baptist to do.  Jesus responded by identifying His very works that the Scriptures had foretold would indicate the One and Only Messiah and His Divine Kingdom!!

Jesus does not provide John a definitive answer: Jesus provides a method for John to use to come to clarity of faith.  Jesus references the Divine Scripture.  The method is valid for us as well.  Read the Bible!!  Read the Gospels!!  Ponder the Word of God, reflect on it daily.  The Scripture passages today and each day of the Advent-Christmas Seasons, are carefully selected.  The First Reading and the Gospel are in harmony with each other.  The Old Testament Reading is fulfilled in the Gospel.  As we slowly read the Scriptures and ponder their meaning, we give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to enlighten our minds and hearts.  God Himself will reveal His Wisdom, His Divine Providence to us.  Slowly we will uncover with His help the Divine Plan of God’s love for us found completely and fully in His Son alone!!!

Faith is a gift of God initiated in us at our Baptism.  But as the Scriptures tell us it is a seed planted that needs water and sun to grow.  God provides the nourishment and light for its growth, but we must invite and welcome into ourselves the Holy Spirit by our daily prayer with His Holy Word.

John the Baptist never stopped searching for God and the ONE he was to send.  John questioned, sought answers and acted on his faith daily.  That has to be why Jesus said of him: among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist.  In turn, we who follow in John’s footsteps and embrace the method of searching for truth provided by Jesus will one day be acclaimed by Jesus: yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

WE BELIEVE, AND THEREFORE SPEAK (2 Corinthians 4:13)  Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com

Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labors. Make a little time for God and rest a while in him.

Enter into your mind’s inner chamber. Shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek him; and when you have shut the door, look for him. Speak now to God and say with your whole heart: I seek your face; your face, Lord, I desire.

St. Anselm – Desire for the vision of God

 

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