December 11, 2022: Third Sunday of Advent
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11
When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another? Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 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.”
As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” Or so claims the punch line of a marvelously silly Monty Python sketch. And just like the spoofed Inquisition, this week’s Gospel is all about expectations. Who did people expect Jesus to be? The Messiah was supposed to be an earthly one-man army. But Jesus is nothing like that. No wonder John and his followers are confused. I love how Jesus turns the question on its head by asking what the crowds expected of John – a swaying reed? Fine cloths? Remember reading all about John last week? The man sports camel-hair and eats locusts. (Maybe they’re palatable with the right amount of honey?) John’s not what anyone was expecting either. God surprises us again and again. Isn’t that what makes life so delightful?
What are your expectations for the holiday season? Are there places you can compromise in the name of mental health and peace? Perhaps your gift list can be pared down. Maybe you don’t need to make all those cookies. This week, think of ways you can expect less of yourself over the holidays. Give that time instead to appreciating all that is joyous and ever-new – the beauty of Christ’s coming to share intimately in our humanity.