God has no grandchildren – Wednesday, 3rd Week in Advent/Isaiah 45:6b-8,18,21-25/Luke 7:19-23
This text throws us several beautiful reflections for the Advent season. Remember that John is the precursor, the one who announced the coming of the Messiah, the Elijah that the Jews did not recognize. The Gospels tell us that John is in prison and perhaps the fears of human worry have overtaken his godly ministry.
Clearly John has doubts and seeks a clarification by summoning two his disciples whom he sent the Lord. What should immediately cross our minds is that simple matter of fact question, ‘why does John have doubts?’ Was it not John who while pointing to Jesus proclaimed, “behold the lamb who takes away the sins of the world?” Yet now he sends a message to enquire, “are you the one or should we wait for another?” Was John conflicted or confused?
The simple truth is that even saints have doubts. To doubt is not a sin though many faithful Catholics subscribe to such a thought. “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief” is not so much a confession of doubt but a cry out to increase the faith I have. Again, and to reiterate a point; to doubt is not sinful however to live in constant doubt is a sinful because it constantly demands proof.
The messengers carry the message to the tee; not a word is changed. They knew who Jesus was and they knew that they were sent by one whom Jesus himself had hailed in Matthew 11:11 “Truly, I say to you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.” Personally, I would not like to trade places with these messengers for a second. Privileged though that I would be, this was not an easy message to carry. The two disciples of John do not soften the doubt of their master nor do they sugar coat it. They come from one who has authority to another who is THE authority. The message is conveyed in its entirety and its truth. Truth speaks to Truth.
The Gospel interjects this narrative with an immediate report of the works performed by Jesus. This is done so that the response of Jesus is clearly understood by us, the readers, as to who Jesus is. We are told that Jesus has cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits and had given sight to many who were blind.
Jesus’ answer to John via the disciples is a path to evangelization for us today. “Go tell him what you have seen and heard” Jesus does not dictate a carefully crafted statement of belief. His response is not a formulation of doctrinal belief. His response is direct and simple; tell him what YOU hear and what YOU see. The stress is on the YOU! The answer that should be taken to John must be from a personal testimony that stems from personal experience. The disciples of John must experience first-hand the ministry and message of Jesus and filled with conviction they will communicate their experience. John will no longer be in doubt!
Faith can never be second hand. It must be experienced. One of my favourite authors, Richard Rohr said this. “God has no grandchildren. God only has children.” Each generation has to make its own discoveries of Spirit for itself. If not, we just react to the previous generation, and often overreact. Or we conform, and often over-conform. Neither is a positive or creative way to move forward.”
Written on behalf of the Holy Spirit
Fr Warner D’Souza