John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?’ Jesus answered, ‘Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’
As the messengers were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? A man wearing fine clothes? Oh no, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces. Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet: he is the one of whom scripture says:
‘Look, I am going to send my messenger before you;
he will prepare your way before you.
‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.’
We heard that Gospel passage of Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Joy.
And clearly the Gospel helps us to identify reason for joy. But the joy is not unalloyed. John is in prison, conerned, and doubtful. His doubts dispelled he still faces his martyrdom. That death is to his glory, but , still, it is a cruel death and one visitied upon him as a result of scheming and of brutal dictatorship.
We have no one more that we are to wait for, the kingdom is at hand, but sometimes it appears, also, very far off.
- For what needs – of yourself and others – do you pray today?
Beheading of John the Baptist. Pierre Puvis De Chavannes. Barber Institute. Photo © 2016, Allen Morris