Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

May my words be in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In our epistle, Saint James writes that we should be patient until the coming of the Lord; and as an example of suffering and patience he urges us to look to the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

St John the Baptist is, of course, one of those prophets of whom James speaks. Indeed, our Lord today in the Gospel calls him 'more than a prophet.' Why would he not? John had a unique role – he was the one who came to prepare the way of the Lord.

And yet in our Gospel reading we also hear that St John sends his followers to Jesus to ask the question: 'are you the one who is to come; or are we to wait for another?' Does John doubt who Jesus is? I would find that hard to believe of the one who declared 'behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,' and who stated bluntly that he was the one who should be baptised by Jesus. So why does he send them?

The answer to that question lies perhaps in the answer Jesus gives to the question they are sent to ask: ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’

Jesus' response is pretty much to say that his actions speak for him; and that his actions are not those that many were expecting of the Messiah. John sends his followers so that they might know that Jesus is the Messiah; he is not seeking reassurance for himself; rather he seeks to reassure those who follow him, so that they may follow the one whom he was sent to prepare the way for.

In this season of Advent, as we we wait for when the Lord will come again, let us not lose patience in our waiting; let us remember that Jesus is the God of surprises just as John reminded his followers; and let us follow the example of St John and the other prophets and not be afraid of what it may cost us to be faithful to the Word of the Lord. Because the price we may pay in this life through the giving up of its pleasures or approval is treasure laid up for the next. Amen.

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