Imagine a person watching television intently as the lottery balls are being drawn. The person is fortunate enough to see the first number drawn matches the numbers on their ticket. There is no real excitement yet since there is a long way to go and the dream of winning the fortune barely registers as a realistic possibility. Then the second number too is a match. This sees a little bit more interest but the jackpot is still a long shot. Next the third number matches; now there’s a wee bit of shifting about on the sofa as the heart rate speeds up a little. Amazingly, the fourth number matches as well! This is starting to get a little surreal. The person dares to hope in the impossible and can perhaps already taste the sangria as they imagine themselves relaxing on a Mediterranean beach, if only the last two numbers match.
John’s disciples had a ‘ticket’ as well and they were hungry for the prize. The promise of the Holy Scriptures was the ticket they hoped would lead them to the jackpot – union with God. Schooled wisely by John, they are sent to Jesus to check out if He is the unique combination that can make real the promises of the Scriptures. It is interesting to note how Jesus answers their question of whether or not He is the One on whom they should pin all their hopes.
Like the lottery numbers being drawn one by one, Jesus describes how the blind see, the deaf hear and the dead are raised up. He shows that He is the living embodiment of the Scriptures; the actualisation of the ‘ticket’. Just like the person watching the lottery, John’s disciples gradually begin to see their hopes fulfilled with each proof that falls from Jesus’ lips. They realise that the Scriptures find their completion in Him. No more detail is given here about their return journey to John but it perhaps might have been something like that of the disciples on the road back to Jerusalem from Emmaus. During the encounter with the risen Lord their hearts had burned within them as He explained the Scriptures (Luke 24:32).
There is a significant difference between those who cross their fingers, hoping in blind chance and those who have a sure hope in the Cross of Jesus. The joyful hope of Advent is sustained by the promise of the Saviour’s coming. Is there room for him in our inn? If not, we need to consider letting go of those other occupants in our hearts that push Him to the periphery.
Gospel Reflection for 3rd Sunday of Advent – Year A (Matthew 11:2-11)