Gaudete Sunday

Last weekend the National Catholic Youth Ministry Conference was held in Tampa. There were more than 2,500 Catholic visitors to our fair city. They were quite happy to be here, energized by the conference and no doubt happy to return home to share the Good News with their parishes. As the major, early season snow storm swept across the southern states, many were quite happy that the airplane finally got off the ground. Not all travelers were so lucky. There were lots of delays and cancellations. I hope they found happiness in a phone call, a familiar voice, or maybe a moment of quiet after the conference. Continue reading

For Whom Are You Looking: a final thougth

Matthew 11:2-11. 2 When John heard in prison of the works of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to him 3 with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 4 Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 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. 6 And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” 7 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? 8 Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. 9 Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 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.’ 11 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..

Some Final Thoughts. Within the narrative of Matthew, John the Baptists helps establish the identity of Jesus – something especially key during the Advent Season. “Whose birth are we preparing for, anyway?”  And this is as important a question for us in our day as it was in the life and time of John the Baptist. Continue reading

For Whom Are You Looking: the herald

Jesus meets John the Baptist

 

The Third Sunday of Advent

 

Matthew 11:2-11. 2 When John heard in prison of the works of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to him 3 with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 4 Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 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. 6 And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” 7 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? 8 Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. 9 Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 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.’ 11 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.

 

Jesus’ View of John. John’s preaching had created a sensation (see 3:5), and the movement into the wilderness had been a remarkable phenomenon. Jesus now examines its motives, to show the real significance of John. The series of three questions and answers suggests motives progressively closer to a true understanding of John. A reed shaken by the wind is a metaphor for a weak, pliable person; John was not such a person, and the implied answer is ‘Of course not’. It was John’s rugged independence which attracted a following. Nor was he dressed in fine clothing; far from it, as 3:4 shows. It was as a man conspicuously separate from the royal palace that attracted them. (There may be an ironical reference to his present residence in a ‘royal palace’—as a prisoner of conscience in Herod’s fortress) His rough clothing in fact points to his real role, as a prophet (see 3:4), and the crowds would gladly have accepted this description of John. But even that is not enough. Continue reading

For Whom Are You Looking: tell what you see and hear

Icon of Jesus Christ from the Cathedral of Hag...

 

The Third Sunday of Advent

 

Matthew 11:2-11. 2 When John heard in prison of the works of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to him 3 with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 4 Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 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. 6 And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” 7 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? 8 Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. 9 Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 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.’ 11 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..

 

Commentary. The Baptist, whose proclamation introduced Matthew’s presentation of the Messiah (3:1–12), is now appropriately called as the first witness to the meaning of Jesus’ ministry. Yet John’s response is equivocal, positive but uncertain. Nonetheless his is a preparatory role for the true time of fulfillment. John remains the one who points forward, even if uncertain. Continue reading

For Whom Are You Looking: Context

Icon of Jesus Christ from the Cathedral of Hag...

The Third Sunday in Advent

Matthew 11:2-11. 2 When John heard in prison of the works of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to him 3 with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 4 Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 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. 6 And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” 7 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? 8 Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. 9 Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 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.’ 11 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.

Context. The “works of the Christ” (Mt 11:2), which have been set out in chapters 5–10, provoked different responses from different groups. These responses, most of which consist of misunderstanding if not outright rejection, are examined in chapters 11–12, and explained in the parables of chapter 13. Further examples of the response to Jesus will occur in chapters 14–16, until the true response is found in Peter’s confession in 16:13–20, which will bring the second main part of Matthew’s Gospel to its climax. This is the thread which runs through these chapters. Through them we are led from a view of Jesus as others saw him to the true confession of him as Messiah which eluded most of his contemporaries, conditioned as they were by erroneous or inadequate ideas of the Messiah. Continue reading