Matthew 11: 2-15
In today’s passage, we just read is a catalogue of newness, of miracles, of wonders, of transformation that will turn people in their fear, failure, and disability into newness beyond themselves. That is what Jesus did, does, and will do over and over again. That is what we wait for; and what we are called to prepare and expect God’s transformational newness where the new world will be birthed at Christmas.
Yes, John was a sign of readiness and preparation. If we knew what John looked like, we would have expected a prophet. We know about prophets in the Scripture. The prophets were “hopers.” They had their eyes and ears on God’s way, not the way of the world, so that they were able to act differently and prophetically—going against the way things were, and seeing something different that the world could not see.
And the prophets were “demanders” who keep reminding us that there was no free Advent, but we should face the demands of God’s commandment—loving God and our neighbor together.
In addition, the prophets were the thorny persons in a good way—calling people to change, to repent, to reorganize, to rethink away from the way of the world or away from the consumerism Christmas to the paradoxical reality and tension between the kingdom of God on earth and the kingdom of heaven. That was what John did as a hoper, a demander, and a thorny person.
For this season of Advent, one of the mistakes we have often made is that we may want to romanticize the birth story of Jesus. There is nothing wrong. But, we might be careful if we remember the purpose and reason for the birth of Jesus.
I invite us to be awake from a romantic story of Christmas, but be awake to prepare the birth of hope; to believe the birth of peace; to receive and practice the birth of joy and love—by helping the blind to see and by holding a place for the vulnerable who need a direction; by welcoming lepers back in, the one socially excluded because they are not like us; by helping the deaf hear, the one who can hear the calling of their names in assurance; by helping the dead to be raised, and by bringing good news to the poor, news of debts cancelled, the day of God’s favor.
Imagine what the world may look like, if we keep planting and sowing more seeds of hope in a sarcastic and cynical world, even though we do not see the fruits right now.
Imagine what this community may look like, if we keep practicing the demands of God’s commandment—loving God and our neighbor together—even if we sometime have to put our ego down for the sake of the community. Imagine what a faith community may look like when we appear to be the thorny community—calling people to change, to repent, to rethink, and to transform ourselves to be ready for the birth of God’s newness.
In today’s passage, Jesus’s words still pinch us, “Let the person who has ears, listen.”
Thanks be to God.