Matthew 11:2-11 (CEB): Now when John heard in prison about the things the Christ was doing, he sent word by his disciples to Jesus, asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
Jesus responded, “Go, report to John what you hear and see. Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled are walking. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. The poor have good news proclaimed to them. Happy are those who don’t stumble and fall because of me.”
When John’s disciples had gone, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John: “What did you go out to the wilderness to see? A stalk blowing in the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed up in refined clothes? Look, those who wear refined clothes are in royal palaces. What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. He is the one of whom it is written: Look, I’m sending my messenger before you, who will prepare your way before you.
“I assure you that no one who has ever been born is greater than John the Baptist. Yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
As we noted last week, the coming of G_d’s Realm brings justice. And the Gospel reading for this third Sunday of Advent continues this theme.
What I find interesting about this passage is that John’s not second-guessing himself; his ministry. He’s second guessing Jesus! He’s just wondering if he picked the wrong person. John didn’t tell his followers to ask Jesus if he was wrong about his calling and ministry. He asked if he was wrong about Jesus!
I mean, why would John ask that question? Because, as we’ve seen time and time again, Jesus wasn’t doing the things that John (or any of their contemporaries) thought the Messiah was supposed to do. But Jesus’ answer points to the very fulfillment of G_d’s long promised return.
The justice that G_d’s Realm brings isn’t only about righting the wrongs of society. It isn’t about starting a holy war with Rome — like so many of them wanted (and eventually got but didn’t go like they thought). G_d’s Realm is about restorative justice. That is, as Jesus says above, “Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled are walking. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. The poor have good news proclaimed to them.” In other words, the coming of G_d’s Realm meant more than overthrowing the pagans. Much more. The return of G_d and the establishment of G_d’s Realm meant humanity is restored.
This, my dear sisters and brothers, is what Advent means — the restoration of humanity. And not only humanity, but all creation. And, like the people of Jesus’ day, this restoration happens in ways we won’t be expecting. Like we saw last week, the Realm of G_d and Presence of Christ are everywhere. In places we don’t anticipate. In people we don’t expect. As we continue through this Advent season, let’s remember that we, as followers of The Way of Jesus, are called to bring this restoration to everyone we meet.
And it must start within ourselves.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC