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Advent Reflection: 12/21/12

12/21/12 Ben Almassi (C’14)
Isaiah 10:5-19
2 Peter 2:17-22
Matthew 11:2-15

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen! -Matthew 11:2-15

There is an old joke, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I’d consider myself a good comedian. Many people, young and old, see plans as essential to getting through the day. It gives them, myself included, a sense of control, removing any unexpectedness that the day may hold. However, isn’t it true how our plans almost always see speed bumps, U-turns, traffic lights and the occasional detour?

Considering the nature of Jesus’ time, the expectations surrounding the coming Messiah were high and lofty. A just and powerful leader that punishes enemies and rewards the righteous was desired then and now. Now, when John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of Jesus, people doubted. John the Baptist did not fit the exact image of a king’s second hand man. He was mysterious, alone and lived in the wild. Things are not always as they seem. As we all come to learn in this life, appearances are quite deceptive. With all this said, God has quite a curve ball, eh?

I believe that Jesus succeeded the expectations set for Him. Restoring bodies, hearts and minds back to God have never been in any past leader’s resume. More than that, the sacrifice He made was the most powerful act of love any leader can make for his people! Jesus was radically different, challenging those around Him to live higher and to see wider, in a way that was revolutionary, then and now.

Appearance and expectation limit life; Jesus wants us to be open to God’s will for His fresh surprises and to His perspective and plans. John the Baptist was a lowly wilderness man who baptized God’s son – what an honor, right! Yes, he prophesied, but more than that – more than what meets the eye – he prepared the way for a radical new way of life that Jesus shared with us – one that is nonviolent and not forceful, but filled with peace, truth, and real happiness. All we have to do is open the eyes and ears of our heart!

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to remember You and what You have called us to be. While others called us servants, You called us friends. Help us to live with open hands and open hearts. Amen.