2. James 5:7-10
Gospel: Matthew

                           "Are  your expectations wrong or correct?"

There was a certain lady who spent time working for the Lord including visiting the sick and the bedridden, helping the elderly and the handicapped- was diagnosed of a knee problem needing surgery. After the surgery was done, however it was not successful and thus left her in constant pain and unable to walk. It seemed the Lord had ignored the prayers of this woman and her friends for a successful surgery. This was the woman who considered herself a personal friend of Jesus. And she was really disappointed. Her otherwise cheerful disposition turned into sadness and gloom. One day she pulled herself together and shared with her confessor what was going on in her soul. The confessor suggested that she goes into prayer and ask her friend Jesus why he has treated her this way. And she did. The following day the priest met her and saw peace written all over her face in spite of her pain. " Do you know what Jesus said to me?" She began. " As I was looking at the crucified Jesus and telling him about my bad knee, he said to me, ' Mine is worse.'"

Coming to our readings of today more especially to the gospel, we can ask ourselves this question that, does John the Baptist find himself in a similar situation? John has spent all his life in the Judean desert in anticipation of the Messiah who was to come. He has prepared the way for the Messiah by calling the people to a baptism of repentance. Now he is suffering in prison because he denounced the sins of Herod Antipas. At the same time Jesus begins his public work as the Messiah.

The issue we can ask ourselves here is that why doesn't Jesus go to visit John the Baptist in prison or send him a word of encouragement? John being in prison hears that Jesus is performing miracles. Why doesn't he use his miraculous powers to set John free and vindicate him? Moreover, Doesn't prophecy say that one of the signs of the Messiah is that he will set prisoners free? Automatically John would expect to be one of the first beneficiaries. After all it was he who baptized Jesus in the first place. Some reciprocal benevolence would certainly be in order. Thus John sends messengers to Jesus to remind him. Jesus' message back to John was, " Yes I am indeed the Messiah. But please do not take offence at me if all your expectations are not met." Blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me."  

What can we learn from the above fact? we get a lesson about wrong expectations Popular theology in biblical times held that prosperity was a sign that God was with someone and adversity a sign that God was not with them. The author of Job questioned this theology by telling the story of Job who was a man of God and yet he met with adversity but that theology has survived and is still with us today in spite of the teachings and personal example of Jesus.

Let us understand one fact that in Jesus we see that the sure signs of God's presence are not primarily  material but spiritual. It is very true that  in the ministry of Jesus " the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised"( Matt11:5), however, these miracles can be seen as" signs" of an inner spiritual blessing. What does it profit a person ultimately to receive the use of physical eyes and feet if  they continue to spiritual blind  and lame? No. The vital signs of God's presence are spiritual- Spiritual enlightenment( blind see, deaf hear) and empowerment ( lame walk, dead raised).  Of course these have inevitable salutary effects on the physical plane, however these are secondary.

Once upon a time there was a blind who became a preacher. He drew crowds to his preaching because even though he was still physically blind, he would often begin his preaching by declaring, " I was blind but now I see"

In advent season we are like John waiting for the coming of the Lord. What are our expectations? Today's gospel reminds us that we need to entertain expectations that are in accordance with the Lord's priorities. Without discounting the physical and material we are reminded that the primary domain of God's saving work among us is the spiritual. Ultimately this has saving effects on the material and social order, but God's salvation is primarily spiritual.

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Chapisha Maoni