John in his prison ... (Matthew 11,2)
Dear brothers and sisters,
One of the characteristics of Advent is that it is a time of waiting. St. James in his letter, today's second reading, speaks about this characteristic: "Be patient, brothers, until the Lord's coming". We need to be patient, sometimes in our life we don't like waiting, we don't want to be patient and this was the situation in the first Christian community. They didn't want to wait any longer. I think we, our community, our parish and our society has lost this ability to wait. But if we want be prepared for the coming our Lord Jesus Christ we need to wait. St. James used this beautiful example for us: "Think of a farmer: how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground until it has had the autumn rains and the spring rains!". A really beautiful example for us, but we need to ask ourselves, do I really want to wait? Do I really want to be patient? Or perhaps my life is characterised by a lack of patience and a capacity for waiting.
"You to have to be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord's coming will be soon", that's another message to us from St James in his letter. Sometimes we think: Yes, I agree with the teaching of the Church, with what I read in Bible, but it is so difficult to practice. When we think like this it is helpful to remember the story of John the Baptist which we heard in today's gospel.
"John in his prison..." In prison we can't control anything. We can only wait, we can observe, we can ask but we must wait for an answer. Today many people try to make sense of their lives like John who asked: "Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?" John the Baptist is the person who encourages us to wait for the Lord even in very difficult situations like persecution, like prison, like illness, like unemployment and like all the other difficulties we encounter in our life.
Another teaching in today's gospel is the need to listen carefully to the voice of Jesus. But today especially we must remember sometimes that the answer from Jesus comes indirectly. When John was in prison Jesus' answer was:
"Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me".
What does Jesus' answer mean? Sometimes we want God to answer us directly, like a voice from heaven. But that is not God's way.
The answer from God can be found in what we can "hear and see". God is able give us the answers which we need, but we are called to "hear and see" very carefully.
The person who speaks in name of the Lord is the prophet. In today's gospel Jesus told us that: John the Baptist is a prophet. Because he speaks about the Son of God who is coming, he is waiting for him. Today we are called to be prophets. Yes we are call to be a prophet. We must speak about Jesus in our family, in the places where we live, where we work. Because the prophet reveals God. We need to reveal God once again to this world because the world has forgotten God. That sounds really strange, if we browse the internet, watch television and listen to the radio they speak about Christmas months before the season starts. Yes, they speak about Christmas without mentioning Jesus.
If we don't prepare ourselves to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas which is really the birthday of Jesus our celebration will be empty. Remember what we heard in the second reading : "You too have to be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord's coming will be soon".
The time before Christmas calls us to ask ourselves: What is the great desire of my heart?
It is God Himself who puts this "thirst" in our hearts.