Jesus is the great light that shines on those who dwell in darkness.
John is “under pressure.” Although relatively young, he feels death is lurking in the darkness. The executioner can come any time to take the prisoner away.
And the darkness of prison and impending death leads perhaps to doubts. Is Jesus the true Messiah who comes with vindication and baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire? Why, then, does he not free his Crier? Moreover, why does he not shatter those who imprison prophets?
It is possible, of course, that asking these questions are the disciples of John. Are they not like those who ask Pope Francis to resolve their doubts? In any case, both groups find bothersome the darkness of uncertainty and confusion.
Jesus, however, does not answer “yes” or “no.” He only refers them to his works of mercy. If they look at them from the point of view of Isaiah’s prophecy, they will see them as signs of the presence of the kingdom. But if their starting-point is popular expectation, they will take offense at Jesus. That is because Jesus is not the awaited wrathful liberator who will save the righteous and burn the wicked.
Changing our expectations and imitating Jesus, we pass from darkness to light.
Not rarely, false expectations lead to disappointment. Change is necessary. And Mary teaches us what this means basically. After hearing that nothing is impossible for God, she passes from, “How can this be …?” to, “May it be done to me according to your word.”
Having such faith, we can accept that God may well make roses bloom on Tepeyac in the dead of winter. This Marian faith in almighty God who turns everything upside-down makes us recognize the true Messiah. He is Jesus, poor and humble, who heals and proclaims the good news to the poor. In the kingdom that he announces, the great people are the little ones. Nobility there means being of low-birth. It is not surprising, then, that Jesus adds that the least in the kingdom is greater than John.
And to be the least is to do as the Teacher and Master who washes the feet of his disciples. Unless we follow his example of service, hardship and patience, we may end up like Judas. He is not clean, though Jesus washes his feet. He receives a morsel of bread, still he goes out into the darkness.
In the darkness of insecurities, lies, duplicity and prejudices, we should do as Vincent de Paul. He visits the sick and vows to spend the rest of his life in the service of the poor. As a result, he passes from the darkness of doubts to the light of faith (Jacques Delarue).
Lord, make us cast off the works of darkness.
11 December 2016
3rd Sunday Advent (A)
Is 35, 1-6a. 10; Jas 5, 7-10; Mt 11, 2-11