3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A
9-12 year olds
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.
In the Gospel this Sunday, John the Baptist is in prison. Remember John the Baptist from last week? He is the one with the disturbing message about cutting away the dead wood, preparing us for the new abundant life that Jesus brings. Now, in prison, he asks an interesting question:
“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
He asks if Jesus is the one who is to come. He means the promised one, the Messiah. The one who is coming--that is, not here yet. A strange question to ask someone who is already here.
Jesus is risen. Jesus will come again. Already. Not yet.
In response, Jesus says,
tell John what you hear and see
Use your senses, he says. What do you hear? What do you see? What are the signs?
the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised
The signs that Jesus points them to are the miracles. Miracles are signs of the Kingdom of God. What do they tell us about the Kingdom of God? What will it be like? What does God desire?
Like us, the people at the time of Jesus knew what the Kingdom of God would be like, because the prophets who listened so closely to God spoke about the fullness of the Kingdom. In the first reading this Sunday, we hear Isaiah the prophet talking about the time that is to come, the time we call Parousia. He tells us,
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
The people who walked with Jesus would remember these words when they witnessed the miracles. They would recognize these things. The miracles are pointing to what God wants:
~for everyone to see (Who will we see?)
~for everyone to hear (What will we hear?)
~for everyone to leap and sing for joy (Why?)
Because we are loved, because God is with us, because we are whole, full of the abundant life of God.
We are in a time of waiting. Jesus is risen, but the Kingdom is not complete. But can we experience a taste of that abundant life even as we wait?
What if we don't feel much like leaping because we are weighed down by the things we have done, by poor choices we have made? What if we need an infusion of that abundant life of God?
The sacraments are also signs of the Kingdom of God. They are miracles that help us to see and hear and taste the Kingdom today.