Scripture: Lectionary #7. Isaiah 35:1-6,10. Psalm 146:6-7.8-9.9-10. James
5:7-10 and Matthew 11:2-11

Today's Readings

Did you notice how often you read or hear the word Messiah in the liturgy
as we get closer to the birh of Jesus? Our readings help us to focus on the
identity of the Messiah and again it is John the Baptist who prepares the
way for us to learn who Jesus is through our Gospel from Matthew 11:2-11.
We thus enter a more intense waiting for the Messiah. John the Baptist will
be fading out of the picture and Joseph and Mary will become our guides for
the last part of Advent.  The Messiah's identity is thus clearer and real.

John's disciples will eventually become disciples of Jesus, but today they
are emissaries coming from John who is in prison. They want to get an
answer for their master who wants to know whether Jesus is he who is to
come or shall people, John, and his disciples look for another.  John
probably knows Jesus is the one, but he as a master is sending the
disciples to learn first hand who Jesus is.

Jesus is different from what his generation expected. He is not a zealot;
he is not a royal messiah.  Rather he is a Messiah among the people as
healer, redeemer, and revealer of the kingdom of God and the mysteries of
God. He will be very human and will suffer as a suffering-servant of God.
He is merciful and kind though he is able to judge well and will do so in
his final coming among us.  The lame, blind, and the deaf will be healed;
orphans and widows will be protected.

Jesus' answer fulfills the prophetic words of Malachai and Isaiah. They
confirm what the Baptist believed and now his disciples have been
introduced to a new master. John will not hold on to them but encourage
them to follow Jesus, the Messiah whom they have met.  We need to look for
the Messiah as they did through the prophets and through our personal
experiences of seeing the good that those who are follow the Lord do. The
messianic era has arrived and we enter into with this third week in Advent
while looking toward new guides in the person of Joseph and Mary.

Our Alleluia verse is helpful: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he sent
me to bring good news to the poor."

St.James helps us to be patient in the selection we have for today. We need
patience while waiting for the Coming of the Messiah and for eventually
finding him.  James tells us to listen to the prophets and John was the
last of the biblical prophets--and to have them as models for the rest of
Advent.  Jesus ends the reading today with a great tribute to the Baptist
prefaced by the questions he has answered concerning who John was. Yes, we
are now ready for the persons of Joseph and Mary.  Amen.