Advent III Sunday

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Advent III 2011
How do you feel? Yes how do you feel when you have dedicated your time, your energy to help someone and you are just ignored? How do you feel when you are not appreciated for all that you have done to make someone happy? We all know that, it is not a good feeling at all. With that in mind, let us try to understand the story of today’s gospel.

We remember that John preached the baptism of repentance. We remember that in his preaching he told the crowd that he was not the Messiah but that he prepared the way for him. This means that he knew who Jesus was. He saw in Jesus the Messiah. The One that was to come in power and liberate the Jews from the oppressive Roman government. John baptized Jesus and witnessed the Holy Spirit descending on him as he came out of the water. He heard the Father’s voice saying, “this is my Son, with whom I am well pleased”. But John wanted the Messiah to come in strength. He surely read the Old Testament, and especially some important books such as the book of Isaiah 43, where God promised this: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; (Is 43: 1-3). John knew how God had shown himself mighty in the past; how he delivered the Israelites from Egypt and all the wonders he had performed in their midst including the episode of the Red Sea and the Giants that he had destroyed to lead his own people to the promised land. John knew how powerful God is. To him, when the Messiah comes, he will re-establish that mighty power of God.

That’s why when he found himself in prison, he was shocked, he was confused, just like Ezeckiel was also confused when he was in Babylon after the deportation.  Ezeckiel was confused because he had been taken away from the Temple (the house of God) and from Jerusalem (the Holy city) and removed from the land of his fathers. He was in captivity and the word captivity in Hebrew means exile, uncovered, exposed, stripped. Things were not going well with him at all. Whenever he turned around he could only see the babylonians. Babylon means confusion, a place of corruption and vice. And the prophet of God found himself in that confusion. That’s when the heavens were opened and he saw vision of God!

“…as I was in captivity beside the river Chebar, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God “ (Eze. 1: 1b).
John knew all this. That’s why he was confused. And I am sure his disciples were confused also. And he sent them to ask Jesus an extremely loaded question: “ are you the one who is to come or shall we look for another?”
I find this question easy to relate to. Have you ever experienced times in your life when things have just fallen apart and you’ve wondered about God? Is he there at all? If he is there, then why doesn’t he do something to help?
But look at how Jesus answered the question: Look around! What do you see? The lame walk and the sick are healed”.  Here, Jesus is referring to a prophecy in Isaiah that point to his coming. And he is also saying to John: God comes on his own terms and not on yours.
God comes on his own terms, not on mine, not on yours. You see, Jesus didn’t get John out of prison, which was what John naturally must have wanted. My life hasn’t really panned out; what a disappointing Messiah!
Sometimes when we try all we could and there is no answer to our questions, we start looking for another god. And we think it is God’s job to do our will. No, it’s not God’s job to do my will. It is not God’s agenda to make my life the way I want it to be. It is not God’s purpose to get me out of my own personal prisons. God has a deeper design and a broader agenda. According to Jesus, it is his agenda to heal the whole world. Part of that healing will surely be my healing, but healing on his terms, not mine.
We need the One to come. And yet maybe he has already come in your life and you just might be looking for him in the wrong places. The One who comes to save the blind, the lame, the sick and the dead, is born in the cold and scratchy straw of a manger, with no crib for a bed.
May he come on his own terms to heal and deliver us from the snares of the enemy. Amen!