Jesus confirms He is the Messiah to comfort the imprisoned St. John the Baptist. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Virtue of Faith so he can meditate deeply upon the many miracles of Jesus and by building the Virtue of Charity so he can frequently perform Corporal Works of Mercy.

Liturgy

3rd Week of Advent – Sunday – Cycle A – Mt 11:2-11

Commentary

Having sent the 12 Apostles out to preach and heal, Jesus is approached by the disciples of the imprisoned John the Baptist, who have been sent to reconfirm Jesus’ identity as the Messiah. John was imprisoned by King Herod for denouncing Herod’s adulterous and incestuous“marriage”, and perhaps sought consolation as he faced his own upcoming death. Jesus confirms His identity by cryptically referring to His performance of  the specific kinds of miraculous healings the prophet Isaiah predicted the Messiah would perform; by using these cryptic references, Jesus avoids fully revealing His identity publicly for the present. Knowing that John the Baptist would certainly understand these cryptic references, Jesus offers the beautiful consolation that He is indeed the Messiah to the imprisoned and tormented John the Baptist.  

Jesus now reveals John’s identity to the crowd by describing what John is not. Rather than a cowardly double-talker (a reed by the River Jordan that sways with every breeze), Jesus’ rhetorical question reveals that John was just the opposite, a courageous truth-teller. Rather than a soothsayer who makes money advising kings and lives a soft and pampered life (soft robes in king’s houses), Jesus’ rhetorical question reveals that John was beholding to no man and lived an austere life of repentance in the rugged wilderness.  

Defying common understanding, Jesus confirms John the Baptist is more than a prophet. Using Scripture (Mal 3:1), Jesus reveals that John is the long-awaited one who prepares the way for the Messiah; Jesus is also making a veiled proclamation that He is the Messiah. Jesus affirms that none of the men of the Old Testament surpasses John the Baptist; this is stunning, for this puts John in the same category as the patriarchs and major prophets (Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Elijah). John is honored to announce Jesus Christ and to be among the first to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; John will be murdered by Herod shortly.  

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be impressed with how Jesus reassures the imprisoned John the Baptist: Divine Knowledge, Jesus has a complete understanding of all Scripture, which He, as a Divine Person of the Trinity, created and inspired men to write; Divine Power, Jesus effortlessly performs supernatural miracles; Divine Prudence, Jesus Shrewdly uses cryptic references to ancient Scripture to console John, while not directly revealing that He is the Messiah, avoiding premature confrontation with His enemies; Divine Charity, in responding to John, Jesus demonstrates Works of Mercy (Comfort the Sorrowful; Care for Prisoners). 

Meditate deeply upon the many miracles of Jesus

Realize: Jesus reminded John the Baptist, the greatest of prophets, of His powerful signs to give John faith and hope; today, even more, average men can be strengthened in faith and hope by meditating upon Jesus’ many powerful signs. 

Believe: Reflect upon Jesus’ Signs of the Kingdom (CCC 547-550).

Pray: Jesus Christ, the Grantor of Faith, help me to grow in the Virtue of Faith by guiding and inspiring me as I read the Gospels so I can be more deeply awed by Your many miracles and signs.

Commit to perform Corporal Works of Mercy

Realize: John the Baptist’s disciples visit and comfort him during his imprisonment.  

Believe: Reflect upon Jesus’ insistence that men must perform the Corporal Works of Mercy (CCC 2447).

Pray: Jesus, Perfection of the Works of Mercy, help me to build the Virtue of Charity so I can have the faith and fortitude to make a substantial difference in the lives of the poor and suffering; help me discern if I should serve in Catholic prison ministries in the coming year.