Reflections 15th December 2019

A Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent

Mt. 11:  2-11 ( ) 

We call it Gaudete Sunday – Rejoice Sunday – and in the darkness of an Irish December you can see the wisdom of taking time to enumerate reasons to be happy!  

However, John the Baptist in today’s Gospel certainly isn’t leading by example. He is in prison, alone and having doubts about what God is doing. He appears to be wondering, have I got it wrong? Could it really be that Jesus is the promised one? Jesus who is reaching out to the sick and the poor, to sinners and the marginalized. John, in his day, had preached some pretty fiery sermons on impending judgment and now Jesus comes preaching unconditional mercy and sitting down with outcasts to break bread with them. Is this the plan of God to win us over? Surely a good dose of hell-fire and brimstone would get better results!! Jesus sends the messengers back to John; “just tell him what you see and hear! All around you the compassion of God is at work, so tell him not to be scandalized or take offence. This is the reign of God, this is the good news that he has longed for, so please tell John from me that he should be happy that it is so.” 

It is an interesting thought that both John and Jesus would have read and been familiar with today’s first reading. John probably saw it as a promise that would be fulfilled when God would come to save the righteous! Jesus on the other hand sees in it the transformative love of God for all creation bringing about a new world in which every person would come to know their dignity and worth and would want to cry out with joy to God who is the source of everything that is good. Jesus’ mission is to make this God known, and this Advent we are reminded that we share in that mission. This is indeed a cause for rejoicing.   

The Sundays of Advent 2019, Reflections by Seán Goan (Co-ordinator of Spiritan Mission Ireland)