Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on December 15, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

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 johnbaptist1proclaimed 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.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Earlier in the gospel, Jesus comes to John the Baptist seeking John’s baptism. Matthew tells us that when Jesus asked John to baptize him, John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” John in that passage has a conviction about who it is who stands in front of him; but in this passage here on the third Sunday in Advent, John seems to experience some doubt or confusion: Matthew tells us, 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 95acf27c89bf93462f181dad6c3709e9_w600should we look for another?” I sometimes think that among the great sins of Christians, as evidenced by the relentless focus on doctrine and orthodox belief, is our quest for certainty on the faith journey. We want to package the truth and categorize it: to know with certainty that this is black, and this is white. We want our religion like we want our breakfast: neat, tidy, without a mess. Advent challenges this attitude–not by asking to deny Christian doctrines–but by inviting us to engage in the spiritual life, which is neither neat nor tidy. Jesus himself says there is no greater born than John the Baptist, but Matthew tells us that on one day, John seems quite sure who is in front of him, and on a later day, he entertains doubts. To engage with God is to enter into the realm of mystery and uncertainty; even the greatest ever born approached the mystery surrounded with shades of grey.

Spiritual reading: I like this time of Christmas. God becomes flesh. He becomes small to teach us to love and to be open to those who are suffering and who are in difficulty. Of course God is in our world but he waits silently for us to turn to him and call him to our help. In the book of the Apocalypse we read that God stands at the door and knocks. If anyone hears and opens the door, God will come in and eat with them. In the Biblical sense, eating with someone means becoming their friend. God wants to make us his friends. But there can be no love or friendship without freedom. If we turn God away, he still waits for us to open the door to him. God is a prisoner of our freedom. The God of compassion cannot exercise his compassion in the world without going through our intelligence, wisdom, capacities and heart. God is not a God of violence but rather a God who invites and who waits with love to give his love to everyone. (Jean Vanier)


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