Is. 35:1-6,10; James 5:7-10; Matt 11:2-11
We are about to begin the 9-day Mesa the Aguinaldo (Dawn Mass for Christmas). In my own analysis, this is the most difficult Mass that we are going to attend compared with other Masses. It is because we have to wake up early in the morning. You know, I’m wondering why many people are attending this early morning Mass. May be because they like this Mass or they just want to wake up very early. I do not know. According to some that if you can complete the 9-day Mesa de Aguinaldo, your wish will be granted and many blessings will pour into your life.
In the late 1880s, the commercial rush of Christmas begins in September when shops start to sell Christmas cards and other Christmas-related gifts and decors. Just like here in the Philippines, according to many as long as when months that end with ER like September, October and others, that’s the beginning of Christmas season in this particular country. By the end of October, many houses, business establishments, buildings and even streets and plazas are fully decorated with different Christmas decors.
One can either moan or gripe about the hastiness of the people who are ruining Christmas with their money. Instead of making or one can make a determined effort to renew and restore the real values of this holiest of feast and start with a proper Advent season.
Advent marks the four-week celebration before Christmas. It is traditionally a season of penance and preparation before Christmas. The official Church liturgical color is purple, a symbol of penitence. Weddings used to be forbidden during this season – as also during Lent. But folklore and tradition have given their own flavor to each of the Advent Sundays. The First Sunday is Stir Up Sunday, so name because it is the day for ‘stirring up’ the Christmas pudding and because the Opening Prayer for that day used to say: “Stir up, we beseech you, O Lord…”The Third Sunday is Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for “rejoice.” Before on this day, everyone took a break from the penitential theme and pink vestments, altar cloths and candles were allowed in the Church.
It is pity to start making preparations for Christmas before has properly begun. When Advent finally arrives at the end of November, there are just four weeks to go until Christmas and this is just long enough to make good preparations for the great feast and to enjoy doing so.
In today’ gospel, John the Baptist sends emissaries to Jesus Christ in order to make it sure if He is really the One that they are waiting, the Messiah. Some would say that John had some doubts about Jesus if He is really the Messiah but that is the least idea to think of.
According to a certain priest in his homily that John has spent all his life in the Judean desert in anticipation of the Messiah who is to come. He has prepared the way for the Messiah by calling the people to baptism of repentance. Now he is languishing in prison because he denounced the sins of Herod Antipas. In the meantime Jesus begins His public work as the Messiah. It seems He doesn’t bother visiting John in prison or send him a word of encouragement. John hears that He is performing miracles. Why doesn’t he use His miracle power to set John free and vindicate him? Doesn’t prophecy say that one of the signs of the Messiah is that He will set prisoners free? Naturally John would expect to be one of the first beneficiaries. After all it was he who baptized Jesus in the first place. Some reciprocal benevolence would certainly be in order. So John sends messengers to Jesus to remind Him maybe.
Maybe, it might cross also in the mind of John that the Messiah would ruthlessly condemn the sinners. May be he must had scandalized to hear Jesus being surrounded by sinners and unreligious people, the sick and powerless. It might not crossed John’s mind that the Messiah could be humble, merciful and suffering man.
Jesus answers the messengers: “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 raised and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them,” (vv 4b-5).
In other words, the greatest message of Jesus is that of healing. He healed the sick and the dying without medicine and makes no charge for His service – no doctor’s fee. He never studied psychiatry and yet he has healed more broken hearts than the doctors far and near. But when He dies few people mourn him but all nature honor Him and corruption could get hold of His Body. Sinners alone reject Him but once a week, the wheels of commerce cease their turning and people went their way to worshipping assemblies to pray and pay homage and respect to Him.
This healing would be seen also as signs of an inner spiritual blessing. What does it profit a person ultimately to receive the use of physical eyes and feet if they continue to be spiritually blind and lame? No. The vital signs of God’s presence are spiritual – spiritual enlightenment (blind see, deaf hear) and empowerment (lame walk, dead raised).
Long ago, a rabbi was said to have knocked at heaven’s door and confronted the Messiah: “Why are you taking so long? Don’t you know humankind is waiting for you/”?
“It is not Me they are expecting,” answered the Messiah. “Some are waiting for wealth and riches; others for power to lord over others or for a kingdom of their own fantasies. No they are waiting for the realization of their own foolish dreams, not the dream of the Messiah for them.”
The rabbi came back to earth, gathered his disciples and forbade them to despair: “Let us begin to dream God’s dream for us – our true waiting begins!”
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A