December 12, 2010
Reflection on the Gospel Reading
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.