John the Baptist was in a dudgeon. His thoughts became as dark as the cell he was in. He wondered if he had fulfilled his mission of preparing the way for the coming Messiah. He found himself more than a little confused by his cousin Jesus who had come to him in the wilderness asking for his baptism of repentance. Moreover, John thought the Messiah would be an avenging servant of God, baptizing with the Spirit and with fire, a winnowing fan in his hand, clearing his threshing floor and burning the chaff with unquenchable fire.
But Jesus was acting differently from all reports John was hearing as he paced in his cell. Instead of judging sinners and calling down God’s wrath upon them, Jesus was showing them mercy; instead of shunning the obvious sinners and the Pharisees and Sadducees who thought themselves righteous, he was eating and drinking with them, not threatening punishment but leaving blessings in his wake!
And so, John sends some of his disciples to find out what Jesus was doing. They come back with a surprising answer: “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
How about that! A whole other and unexpected way of being the Messiah!
As this Advent continues, may we learn that God cannot be limited to one way of acting or to our personal set of expectation or preferences. The joy of this Sunday and of this season is that almost always does the unexpected. In so doing, God stretches our vision, our faith, and even our hopes, by showing that our ways may not as great as the ones God has planned for us.
3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A, 2016