December 15, 2019
Fr. Joseph Jacobi
“Are you the one to come or should we look for another?” “Are you the one to come or should we look for another?” The question of John the Baptist gets right to the heart of the matter. Is Jesus the promised Messiah or is he not?
Jesus is certainly not doing what John the Baptist in Matthew’s Gospel expected him to do. Jesus does not come with fiery judgment and condemnation, he is not sifting the wheat and burning the chaff, but he comes with mercy and compassion for the wayward ones. However, John the Baptist, being a prophet, is aware of the prophetic utterances from Israel’s past. He would know of Isaiah’s signs of God breaking into the world, coming to save His people by healing the blind, the deaf, the lame, and bringing the dead back to life.
Perhaps John sends his disciples to Jesus with this haunting question, not for John’s sake, but for the sake of John’s disciples. After all, John certainly would have known his time on earth was limited. As a prisoner of King Herod and with Herod’s vengeful wife lurking in the background, John would have sensed that someone would soon be coming for his head. So, John addresses the doubts of his disciples by sending them to Jesus. They are to no longer rely only on what others say about Jesus; they are to go and know Jesus firsthand. Thus, even from behind prison bars, John continues his mission of preparing the way for the Lord.
The response of Jesus to their question, “Are you the one to come or should we look for another?” is not a direct answer. Notice that Jesus does not say, “Yep, I’m the one.” Rather he points to his works—the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the dead come back to life, and the poor are comforted by the good news. Those who are broken are now healed and made whole, what they were missing is now found. The deepest desires of the human heart for wholeness are happening in & through Jesus.
If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we have questions about Jesus. Like John and John’s disciples, we have certain expectations of Jesus, and when He does not live up to those expectations, then we can doubt if He truly is the One who is to come.
Some of us know a lot about Jesus, but do not know him. A number of us have heard others speak about Jesus, but we have not spoken directly to Jesus. So, John the Baptist sends us to Jesus, trusting that if we come to know Jesus, all will be well.
What in your life needs healing? What in your life seems broken beyond repair? What part of you seems feels as dry and parched as a desert? It is in these places of “lack” in our life, these places of need in our life, in these places where we seek wholeness, that the Lord is coming. He can raise up what is dead in us to new life, for that is Jesus’ desire.
He longs to open our eyes to see that we are “very good” in God the Father’s eyes and His eyes as well. He longs to unplug our ears so we can hear more clearly how much we are loved. He wants to touch our legs grown weary carrying the burdens of life that we might dance again. He desires to call us out of the tombs of fear in which we live into the light of a new day, a day filled with hope and rejoicing. Jesus wants to help us uncover our deepest desire, a desire for union with God, and then fulfill that burning desire with the gift of Himself.
Maybe we doubt whether Jesus can do all of this, because we do not know how to wait, because patience is not part of our life of faith. In the 21st century, where with one computer click we can order anything online and have it delivered that very same day to our doorstep, we no longer know how to wait for the gift of the Lord’s healing presence.
His delay in helping us, in healing us, is not because of punishment or vindictiveness. Rather, He may delay for any number of reasons. He may want our desire for Him to grow from something small to something big, so to be better able to receive all He wants to give us. He may choose to allow us to wrestle with that which afflicts us because like St. Paul’s thorn in the flesh, this means we will constantly turn to Him for help each day. If this “thorn” were yanked out of our life, we would trust in ourselves, be proud and strong and no longer need Him at all. Perhaps Jesus delays in doing what we want right away, because He knows that death is the ultimate healing for these finite bodies of ours that were not meant to last forever.
Whatever the reason for His delay, this Season of Advent and these Advent Scriptures reassure us to wait in patient hope, trusting that he is the One who is to Come and that He will come to set us free, to make us whole, to bring us new life. Because that is what He does!!
So like the farmer who does all he can by tilling the soil, fertilizing it, and planting the seed, we do all we can to prepare the way for the One who is to come. Like the farmer who patiently waits for the early and late rains to bring growth to the seed planted, we wait in patient hope for the living water of the Spirit to flow more fully into our life.
Like the prophets who persevered in hope, who kept looking forward into the future filled with hope, we take the same stance toward life with them.
As people of faith, we live in joyful anticipation, knowing the Lord will be faithful to what He promises. For He is the one our hearts long for, the one who will fulfill our deepest desires.
When we come to know the Lord’s desire to heal our brokenness, when we experience His saving love which makes us whole, then we want to be that for others. To be the answer to their question, “Are you the one?”
Are you the one who will help those blind to God’s mercy see it in you? Are you the one who will open the ears of those deaf to God’s goodness through your good deeds speaking to them? Are you the one who will help those crippled by fear to dance again? Are you the one who will bring those buried in despair to hope again?
Are you the one who is going to make the Kingdom of God more of a reality today?