Homily for the third Sunday of Advent - Year A - Mt. 11:2-11


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, 'Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?' And Jesus answered them, 'Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.'


"As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: 'What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses. Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee." (Mal. 3:1) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.' "





Homily:


"Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, 'Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?' "


Shortly after Jesus had performed his first miracle at Cana, Herod had John the Baptist thrown into prison. The latter had reproached Herod for his relation of concubinage with the wife of his brother. Thus it was while he was in prison that John the Baptist learned of the miracles that Jesus had performed here and there. At that time, he had just raised a man from the dead: the son of the widow of Nain (cf. Lk. 7:11-17).


In those days, nearly two thousand years ago, people were not assailed by news and rumors, whether they be true or false, as we are today. There were no advertising leaflets in the mailbox to plunge us into immoderate dreams, no spoken or televised news broadcasts to endlessly harp on catastrophes and bad news despite the fact that, in reality, there is more good news out there than bad...


In short, John the Baptist had much free time in which he could reflect on what he heard was going on in the world outside: this Jesus, this great Prophet who accomplished such prodigious miracles! The spirit of John the Baptist was fully occupied with studying the "signs of the times" and wondering if this Jesus was truly he who would fulfill and bring to their perfection all the prophecies of the past that announced the coming of the Messiah at precisely that time.


In fact, John the Baptist does not doubt that Jesus is the Messiah. He had already recognized him as such, designating Jesus with the words: "Here the Lamb of God!" (Jn. 1:29) But that is not enough for him: he wants Jesus himself to say that he is the Messiah. For Christ - and, with him, the Christian religion - is not the fruit of an elaboration of the human mind: on the contrary, he is a Revelation of God in person, a manifestation of the Divinity incarnate in the man we call Christ!


"And Jesus answered them, 'Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.' "


The first coming of the Lord was accompanied by miracles that helped the people of the time to believe in the envoy of God. The same will be true at the second coming of the Lord: "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come." (Mt. 24:14) Certain people were attentive to the signs of the times at the first coming of Christ, and others were not. The same will be true at his second coming. In every age, there are men and women who follow the Lord and who are attentive to what his Spirit says; in every age, there are people who reject those whom God sends among men... "Blessed is he who takes no offense at me!" (Mt. 11:6)


"As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: 'What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses. Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee." (Mal. 3:1)' "


Why did Christ, who is God, want John the Baptist, as well as many prophets and holy people before him, to proclaim his coming, whether this coming be soon or not? Or why did not Christ want to make himself be recognized as the Messiah without the assistance of any other person? The answer is simple: Christ wanted to be DESIRED! From the time that the sending of the Messiah was first promised (cf. Gn. 3:15), God wants all the men and women of the earth to profoundly desire the coming of the Savior and to await him with patience. But among these men and women, there are some whom God has especially chosen to be the witnesses of this necessary and voluntary desire. It was thus that John the Baptist was selected: "This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.' " (Mt. 11:10)


"Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.' "


If there is one holy woman who desired the coming of Christ with all her heart, it is truly the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, she who brought into the world the Son of God! Her desire was immense, and it surpassed, without any doubt, that of John the Baptist, whose desire nonetheless exceeded that of all the other men and women of his time. But at the same time, the humility of Mary was so great, forever surpassing that of anyone else, that she truly considered herself to be the last of all the servants of God... There is no doubt that when Jesus spoke of the "least", the person he thought of was Mary, his Mother!


Let us all have a great desire for the coming of Christ! Especially today, on the day of the Lord, let us have a great desire for his coming into us at Eucharistic communion! May Mary give us her spirit, her spirit of desire for Christ, in order that we might be true witnesses of the Gospel in all the acts of our life!



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