Kuwait City, 13-15 December 2013
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio,
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
Is 35:1-6a; Jas 5:7-10; Mt 11:2-11
After hearing this gospel proclaimed, there may be an inclination to ask: Is this the same John the Baptizer who was featured in last Sunday’s gospel announcing the advent of Jesus? Is this the same baptizer who fearlessly rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees calling them a brood of vipers? Is this the same John who declared himself unfit to carry the sandals of the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire? How is it then, that today, John appears to be confused as to Jesus’ identity and his purpose?
Obviously, it is the same John and though he was a prophet, he was nevertheless human, and had his doubts and difficulties as well. While in prison, he asked his disciples to go to Jesus in order to ask him “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” It seems strange that John, the fearless baptizer and precursor of the Christ, doubted whether Jesus was the promised Messiah. Many of us may have our doubts as well, even though we believe in God. The same question that tormented the mind of John the Baptist can easily become our question to Jesus as well “Are you the one who is to come?” Our lives are oftentimes full of questions, especially regarding our faith, and this is why the Advent season provides us with an opportunity to rediscover Jesus and renew our belief and trust in him.
This is a crucial question for us today, for in it we confront the issue of what kind of God are we expecting? Some people would like God to be more vengeful towards sinners and evil doers. They would like God to be a policeman or judge who will catch, arrest and condemn all evil doers. Others may want a God who will eliminate all the poverty, injustices and crime that exists in the world. Some may want God to be like a cartoon superhero, coming to the rescue of the world whenever a problem arises. Those looking for a severe God will therefore always be disappointed, since God does not act in this way. Some may then truly have their doubts about God and wonder like John the Baptist “shall we look for another?”
Jesus answers John’s disciples by inviting him and all of us today, to examine his life, listen to his words and look at the effects of his preaching and healing and these are “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”. It is in effect, a challenge set before us by Christ to rediscover our faith! Upon looking at Jesus’ deeds, his words, his miraculous healings, the good news of salvation he has brought into the world, we can understand that Jesus is the love of God made flesh, and those of us searching for his divine love will never be disappointed.
The things that Jesus did in Galilee many years ago he can still do today. In him those who were blind to the truth about themselves, about their fellow-men and about God, have their eyes opened; in him those whose feet were never strong enough to remain in the right way are strengthened; in him those who were tainted with sin are cleansed; in him those who were deaf to the voice of conscience and of God begin to listen; in him those who were dead and powerless in sin are raised to newness and loveliness of life; in him the poorest man inherits the riches of the love of God.
Jesus follows these words with a forewarning: “Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” In other words, happy are those who accept the Lord Jesus as he is without trying to change him; those who love him for the love he has given us; those who trust him and do not doubt him and those who serve him with all their hearts. Once we have no more doubts on who Christ is, what he is like, what he does for us, our lives can then become transformed similarly to the life of John the Baptist who was a messenger and witness for the Lord. Blessed are those who live in the mystery of God’s presence, constantly seeking his face in the faces of their fellow man, who believe in and accept Jesus as the Promised Messiah and their personal Saviour, and who find joy in discovering that his divine love is extended to all of mankind.