3rd Sunday of Advent - Gospel Reading

Third Sunday of Advent [A]
December 12, 2010

Reflection on the Gospel Reading
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.”

Jesus sends a message with John’s disciples:  that there have been miracles such as that the blind regain their sight, and the lame walk.  These signs, like the Baptizer, point to the divinity of Jesus.  But then Jesus speaks to the crowds about the imprisoned John.  John himself becomes the focus of today’s Gospel passage.

In a rare occurrence, Matthew reveals how Jesus uses humor in order to sharpen the crowd’s focus on the true significance and meaning of John.  Beyond the gruff personality and ragged appearance is a prophet par excellence.  Yet John’s greatness ultimately comes from the one to whom he points the attention of others:  Jesus.

It’s likely that the crowds became fascinated by, or at least had their attention arrested by, the extraordinary persona of John the Baptizer.  But using humor and then more direct proclamation, Jesus is putting John in his proper perspective.  We might say that John the Baptizer is Advent, as Jesus is Christmas.  John prepares us for something greater than himself:  the Kingdom of God, which we can enter into only when we orient our own lives as directly towards Jesus as was the life of John the Baptizer.

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The parish I serve

<b>The parish I serve</b>
St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Colwich, Kansas (Diocese of Wichita)