Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Third Sunday of Advent

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 Matthew 11:2-11

"Are you the one who is to come?"

Sounds a bit unsure, doesn't it? "Are you really the one we've been waiting for, or have we got to wait for someone else?" It looks as though John has begun to question himself as well as Jesus. On the banks of the Jordan he had spoken of the one who was to come, who would judge harshly and bring punishment to sinners. John’s idea of the Messiah was of a powerful and strict leader, an embodiment of divine vengeance who was ready to separate the good from the bad, like the wheat from the chaff, and bring eternal retribution to the unworthy.

 

In today’s episode John was in prison for denouncing the immoral behaviour of the king. In that dark place he had heard reports of what Jesus was doing, seeking out the poor and outcasts, healing the sick, mixing with and even eating with known sinners, instructing people to love their enemies. Instead of proclaiming God’s wrath Jesus was preaching about God’s love and mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation. John must surely have wondered not only about Jesus, but also about his own life’s work. Had he got everything wrong? Is Jesus truly the Messiah?  He had a right to ask. In answer Jesus pointed to all the good things that were happening; the very signs given by Isaiah of the messianic time to come. Then Jesus added a note of encouragement to John: "happy is the one who does not lose faith in me".

 

Like John, we too can experience moments of darkness, times of doubt and deep questioning. We may feel somehow imprisoned in the darkness of constant bad news in the world around us, or even in our own lives. Then questions arise within us: where is God in all this? have we got everything wrong? what does Jesus have to say to us? As he did with John, he gently appeals to us not to lose faith in him, for in him lies our true happiness.