(Matthew 11:2-11) Have you ever wondered whether Jesus is truly the Messiah, the Son of God? If so, you are in good company. In today’s Gospel, St. John the Baptist – the one who prepared the way for Jesus’ coming – sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you really the Messiah? Or should we look for someone else?”
John had no doubt that Jesus was the Son of God. After all, John had been reluctant to baptize Him at the Jordan River, protesting that Jesus was the one who should baptize him instead (cf. Mt 3:14). But as Jesus began His ministry, He was looking less and less like the Messiah that people had been expecting. After all, they had not been waiting for the Son of God. They had been waiting for a man – someone who would bring all of the Jewish people back to Israel. They had been hoping for a charismatic politician, someone who would be a powerful military leader. The Messiah they envisioned would establish a government in Israel that would be the centre of all world government. He would rebuild the temple and re-establish its worship. He would be a great judge, someone who would restore Jewish law as the law of the land.
But Jesus was completely different. Although He was a descendant of King David, He did not live in a palace or command an army of soldiers. While it was true that He was well versed in Jewish law, He did not set himself up as an earthly judge. Although the people would have crowned Him king, He did not spend His time trying to amass political power nor curry favour with the rich and powerful. Instead, Jesus was humble and compassionate. Although His words and actions were radical and challenging, He was the servant of all. He spent His time among the poor, teaching and healing. By His own admission, His Kingdom was not of this world (cf. Jn 18:36). So what proof did Jesus give that He was indeed the Messiah? “Go and tell John what you hear and see,” He said. “The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (Mt 11:4-5).
Today – Gaudete Sunday – we rejoice because the coming of our Lord is near. He will not come to overthrow governments or to rebuild the temple. He will not come to oppress us or to slay all who oppose Him. Instead, He will come as a babe to win our hearts, as a teacher to open our eyes, and as the Divine Physician to heal our wounded souls. He comes as our Saviour, to redeem us from our sins and to restore us to life. Yes, Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Son of God. Rejoice! The Lord is near!
– Sharon van der Sloot