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The messengers from John the Baptist

Gospel Reading: Mt 11:2-11
When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to him 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.

Reflection
YE REJOICE: IT’S A CHRISTIAN IMPERATIVE!

Gaudete Sunday commands us, Christians and Catholics, to rejoice. This Latin word, gaudete, is in the imperative mood, plural. It enjoins us to rejoice as a community. We should rejoice because we are now very close to Christmas.

We light the third candle of the Advent wreath, whose color, pink or rose, symbolizes joy. We will better understand the command to rejoice when we seriously take the Word of God. The First Reading contains vocabularies that pertain to rejoicing: the dry land will exult; the steppe will rejoice with joyful song; the ransomed people will meet with joy and gladness.

The desert will bloom with abundant flowers; the glory of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon (northern Israel), will be given the people; they will see the glory of God. The Lord is coming with vindication and salvation. He will heal those afflicted with illnesses. God will reverse the miserable fate of his people. The Second Reading exhorts us to have the patience of a farmer who, after sowing, waits for the seeds to sprout and the plants to grow until it is time for harvest.

Patience is an important ingredient to rejoicing. Devoid of patience, we can become rowdy, mindless, cranky, undisciplined, quarrelsome, critical, and intolerant. In the Gospel, John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus to verify if he is the Christ. John has worked hard to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. Jesus sends the delegation back to him with the report:

“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.” Yes, Jesus is the Messiah, the fulfillment of the Prophets and the Psalms. Jesus makes his disciples realize how lucky they are. They have encountered John, whom Jesus considers the greatest among those born of women.

But they can be greater than John, provided that they become least in God’s Kingdom. This Sunday calls us to rejoice in our faith and celebrate God’s promises. It anticipates the coming of Jesus in his birth, in our present history, and in his glorious return. We rejoice because we believe Christ is here intervening in our history, giving us hope and liberating us from all forms of oppression, injustice, misery, and false values. To us who live our faith, gaudete is no longer a command, but a spontaneous response to God’s call to participate in God’s divine life. We rejoice, celebrating our faith and the coming of Jesus who gives us joy.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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