3rd Sunday Advent Year A
There is a natural tendency within all of us that when we hear something outlandish, something beyond our conception—we want proof that it is indeed possible. On some level this is why magic tricks are so enamoring…prove it that you can pull a coin out of my ear, prove it that you can saw that woman in two, and then when the deed is done we want to know how in the world they did it, but no good magician ever reveals his secret.
In our Gospel we enter into this scene where St. John the Baptist is locked up in prison, and he’s attempting to keep his racket running, but his is not of drugs or gangs but of saints and salvation. He wants to know who this guy Jesus, really is, and so he sends his men on the outside, who’s name was probably Paulie and Baby Face Larry, to ask Him, “Hey so are yous the one or should we look for another?” Jesus answers him very matter-of-factly by stating the proof. He gives a whole laundry list of the things that have been done, all of them miraculous and have no explanation other than Jesus is most certainly, the ONE. Jesus sends them back to his cousin Johnny telling him that the Boss is in town and He’s going to work.
However we wanna look at it, we know that our Lord is more than a magician or a mob boss, He is the Messiah. But the question is do we prefer to be entertained by tricks, caught up in the racket, or do we actually desire to follow the Messiah? What Christ offers is nothing short of unbelievable, that is unless we have faith.
In the classic Pixar movie Toy Story, when Buzz LIghtyear the newest addition to the playroom is being questioned about his abilities and Woody, the previous leader of the gang asks Buzz to proof that he can actually fly. After jumping off the bed, diving head first, through a chain of events, Buzz actually soars into the air, and somewhat flies around the room, thus for the moment proving that he can indeed fly. The simple lesson he teaches is that faith always comes before proof. We have to believe before the subject of our doubt is even given a chance to make a difference. We long to believe, but we so easily convince ourselves that it won’t matter or that it doesn’t make a difference anyway, or that my problems, my situation is unredeemable. Jesus responds to all nay-sayers, you want prove I’ll give you proof, but first we have to believe.
You could say that the focus of John the Baptist was to point to Jesus just as you could say the focus of Advent is to point to Christmas, but each are important in and of themselves. Advent is an opportunity for faith to become actualized as we place our hope in Christ’s coming. We wait with patient and firm hearts for there is nothing we can do to hasten the day, but in this time of build up and preparation we can layer our hearts with love creating in us a warm manger for the Christ child to lay. We do this by being like John the Baptist—seeking out Jesus in the here and now. We can show Him proof of our love as we eagerly search for Him in our midst, in our church and in our world.
The focus for us is to love God and love our neighbor, when we do this we point to the reality that the Messiah, He lives.