To what can I compare this generation? … We played on the flute for you, And you did not dance … Matthew 11:16a; 17a
During this season, as we anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth, the question asked by John the Baptist languishing in prison comes to mind. He sends Jesus a message asking: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2b). For John this was an existential question: Had his life and preaching been in vain? Did the hope of encountering Jesus as the Messiah vanish into thin air? Did he get it wrong and put himself out on a limb? Was there perhaps another Messiah with a more respectable lineage born somewhere in a palace?
Like John the Baptist, we too are familiar with the attributes of the Messiah, but often our loyalties lie elsewhere. Often we are enticed by the promises of other Messiahs we meet along the way: our love of material goods, success, security, luxury, selfishness and pride, which all promise to save us from our sense of hopelessness. How then shall we recognise the Messiah in the midst of all the attractions and distractions of the “festive season”?
Perhaps we should tune our ear to Jesus’ reply to John’s followers: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor" (Matthew 11:4-5).Being human, we’re prone to missing the signs of hope. Hope is not born of the vain expectations of a culture, which has abandoned the promise of salvation along the way a long time ago, or has bartered it for the empty promises of the rich and mighty. Hope comes to pass where new life is born.
May you celebrate Advent this year as a time of renewed hope and rekindled joy for you and your loved ones.
Prayer: Lord, as we celebrate the season of hope, remind us once again of the shepherds who took the message from the angel to heart and set out to find the Child. May we celebrate this Advent season with stars in our eyes and great expectations in our hearts. Amen