Searching for a Saviour yet seeking Santa Claus! – Third Sunday of Advent – MT 11:2-11
My disappointments have always been linked to my expectations. I have envisioned what a person should be or how an event should unfold or what a parcel should contain; then to my horror the images in my head don’t match the reality at my doorstep. (Amazon deliveries included). While the disappointment is purely the result of the imagery I created in my head, there lies the possibility of a scenario created for me by someone else, which does not match the reality.
Last week’s Gospel saw our protagonist, John the Baptist, presenting us with the coming Messiah as some kind of hurricane in a human body. He was to Baptize not with water but with fire and bring about judgement with a vengeance. Lots of fire and brimstone was predicted.
This week’s Gospel has John’s very prophecy leaving him in doubt; for nothing that John hears from his prison cell in Herod’s fortified hilltop palace of Machaerus seems to match what he himself predicted in the wilderness. The voice of the prophet did not match the prophecy; there is talk of a Messiah but no drama surrounding him. So John sends his disciples to ask if Jesus was really the Christ.
To us who read the scriptures, the reply of Jesus would have been better served with a yes or a no. Jesus rather chooses to quote the prophet Isaiah whose description of the Messiah to come is one enunciated in verse five of today’s Gospel. “The blind will see, the lame will walk, lepers will be cleansed, the deaf shall hear, the dead will be raised and the poor have good news brought to them. (See similar texts in Isaiah 26:19, 29:18-19, 35:5-6. 61:1)
To the disciples of John who knew the scriptures relating to the prophecy of the Messiah, this was all they needed to hear. The words of Jesus were a perfect confirmation of what Isaiah had prophesised without the expectant drama.
Let’s cut to the chase and come to the real question at hand on the third Sunday of Advent. The question of John the Baptist is one that also meanders through our heads, especially when we are down and out. Is he really Jesus my saviour? Because I can’t sense his saving hand when I am sinking!
Advent is that time when we have to confront the expectations we have of our God with the reality of who HE really is. We may want a jolly nice chap who pops in and out of our lives with a ‘ho ho ho’, all smiling and charming and dressed in a red suit with our needs tucked in his bag or we can accept the reality that our Messiah has just one gift to offer us at Christmas, salvation!
Fr Warner D’Souza