The Pastor’s Thoughts — Third Sunday of Advent

December 13, 2022 | By Bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr.

“Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus must not have “looked” like the Messiah John had expected. He did not “look like” or “do” what John thought the Messiah would look like or do. John is now hearing reports of a very different kind of Messiah than he had pictured, and he is puzzled. The preaching of this Rabbi from Nazareth, whom John himself had baptized, seemed to go in a very different direction from the fiery one that John was looking for.

He sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” John’s disciples reported back to him what “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.’”

This Jesus if He was the Messiah, had come to heal, not to judge. Is it any wonder why John the Baptist was confused? John had performed a baptism of repentance telling all, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.” John expected the Christ to carry out the final judgment and to destroy all who had not produced good fruit. Instead of bringing the imminent judgment of God, Jesus brings the love, mercy, and healing of God, offered to all, righteous and sinners.

This may be a good weekend to examine our own image of Jesus. Who do we think He should look like? What do we think He should do? As we prepare for Jesus’ coming, we must remind ourselves that He is The Perfect Gift from God to the world. Jesus forgives. Jesus heals. Jesus cleanses. Jesus brings back to life that which was dead. Jesus brings good news to those in desperation. The love of Christ always brings healing.

What Jesus does, makes one thing plain: between the mission of John the Baptist and that of Jesus something so decisive has happened, that it constitutes a parting of the waters between two periods, the Old Covenant, ending with John the Baptist, and the New Covenant, beginning with Christ. The focus of history has shifted: that which is important is not in an imminent future, but that the kingdom of God is “here now,” in Christ.

Today is “Gaudete” Sunday, the Sunday of Rejoicing. Therefore we light a rose candle on our Advent wreath. It signifies patient anticipation, because our Lord’s coming with healing and salvation is near. Come Lord Jesus, come, and heal us, so that the least of us may become greater in the kingdom of heaven!

– Bishop Roy Campbell

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