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In today’s Gospel we see John the Baptist sending messengers from prison to ask Jesus if he were the Christ or should they wait for someone else. Jesus gave them a very concrete answer. He did not try to convince with theories; he pointed to experience (‘the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear…”.) We too will probably come to know God in the concrete experiences of human interaction, encounters in nature and in the silence of our beings rather than in academic studies.

While preparing this writing I came across the website,  The  opening message was : “By taking some time each day to allow that Word (the Gospel) to echo, we may begin to recognize the loving voice of God speaking in our lives.” God speaking in our lives sounds quite ‘concrete’ to me and so I share:

‘We often hear of Advent described as a time of expectancy as though expectancy is a good thing. But when we ponder on what Jesus has to say and how he says it in this Sunday’s Gospel, we find that he challenges everyone’s expectations:      The messengers: I wonder were the messengers somewhat nervous asking Jesus John’s blunt, even rude questions? Jesus does not respond in kind. He tells them to notice what is happening around them and understand it in the light of the Scriptures. In short, free themselves from John’s expectations of the Messiah, look at the works of God, and become prophets to the prophet.      As for John, he knew the Scriptures, so Jesus used what he knew to enlighten him. John had focused on certain parts of his tradition – especially the coming of a powerful Judge. Jesus’ words point John to another part of that tradition: a Savior who comes to save people with gentleness in the midst of their weakness. Ironically, in prison John himself was weak and soon would suffer the extreme helplessness of being murdered. Maybe he now needed the wisdom of that part of the tradition he hadn’t appreciated.   As for the people watching the exchange between Jesus and the messengers, Jesus invites them to reflect on their own expectations and their recent behavior. Where do they normally expect people of power to be? Why in palaces wearing fine clothes, of course! Then why would they have gone out into the wilderness? To see a prophet, of course! People, ourselves included, are often schizophrenic with regards to expectations. We can take on the expectations of our society: power, wealth, influence are to be strived for at all cost, yet we know that other values, love, service, sacrifice are what truly fulfill the desires, the expectations of our hearts.    As for ourselves, as we journey through this Advent,  we are invited to challenge the expectations of our lives: our expectations of God, of success, of how we are to love.’

I encourage you to visit the website, and explore the resources of music, poetry, art, explanations and reflection to help open your mind and heart to encounter Christ in concrete ways. They even have thoughts to ponder while you exercise and drive.  You might even want to bookmark the site and visit it each week!       Wishing you the JOY of the Season!      Peg Orzel