Cycle (A) Advent 3rd Sunday

Is 35:1-6,10; Ja 5:7-10; Mt 11:2-11

Sometime during the sixteenth century, in Velankanni, India, our Lady with her infant son appeared to a Hindu boy carrying milk to a customer’s home. Our Lady asked for milk for her Son and the boy gave her some. On reaching the customer’s home, the boy related
the incident that occurred on his way and apologized for his being late, and the reduced amount of milk.  But, the man found the milk pot to be full and realized that something miraculous had happened.

That man wanted to see the place where the apparition occurred. When they reached the tank, Our Lady appeared once again. On learning that Our Lady appeared to the boy, the residents of the local Catholic community became ecstatic. Hearing about the miracle thousands of people visited to see the place, and the boy.

About two thousand years ago a message spread in Galilee that a man among them, Jesus of Nazareth, was performing miracles. The news became a sensation in and around Galilee. Thousands of people flocked around him, probably out of curiosity, to see him giving sight to the blind, making the deaf hear, helping the lame walk and curing the lepers. This has already been announced by Prophet Isaiah about 740 before the birth of Jesus.

“Look your God is coming.
then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy.”
Manny prophets of the Old Testament announced the Coming of the Messiah. Mica spoke about the birth of a king in Bethlehem, (Micah 5:2).  Isaiah announced that the Messiah would bring peace; John the Baptist announced the judgment of God.
When John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the promised messiah, probably he visualized a transformation of the Physical world. People dreamt of redemption from the worldly suffering and perceived a second Exodus. Their hope was strengthened by the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah in Jesus.
But, greater hardships were in Store for John. He was imprisoned in the fortress palace of Machaerus. Machaerus was a fortified hilltop palace located in Jordan fifteen miles southeast of the mouth of the Jordan River. The hilltop, which stands about 1,100 meters above Dead Sea level, is surrounded on all sides by deep ravines which offer great natural strength.
John was leading a life of unbound freedom. He was the son of wilderness. Now he is confined to the four walls of the prison. He spent about 10 months in isolation and totally estranged from the world. Loneliness and suffering brought doubts to John. He grew impatient and sent his disciples to Jesus with the question,
 “Are you the one who is to come?
or have we got to wait for someone else….?
When doubts obsessed John, when loneliness had overtaken him, when darkness surrounded him, when hope seemed to fail, the only solution before John was to send a question to Jesus. We also experience such moments in our lives. There are moments when we have to face trials. There are moments when we are pressed down with illness. There are moments when we have to face persecution. There are moments when we are betrayed by our best friends. There are moments when we are disowned by those who have been the beneficiaries of our benevolence. There are moments when our own weakness overtakes us.  No matter what our sufferings are, no matter what trial we go through, no matter what disappointments we have, we can send our message to Jesus as John did.
Jesus’ answer to John was:
“Go back and tell John what you hear and see;
the blind see again, and the lame walk
lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear,
and the dead are raised to life
and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor.”
Jesus’ answer to John had a greater spiritual meaning more than that of the factual experience. The Gospels narrate a number of incidents where the blind receive sight from Jesus. Jesus cured one blind man outside the village of Bethsaida (Mk 8:22-26). Jesus cured two blind men in Galilee (Mat 9:27-31) Jesus cured the man blind since birth, near the Temple of Jerusalem (Jn 9:1-7).  Jesus cured blind Bartimaeus. But there were thousands at the time of Jesus, and millions after that, who have received their spiritual enlightenment.  The psalmist prayed: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law (Psalm 119:18). The message of Jesus opened the eyes of the disciples and they left everything and followed Him.  When Jesus entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him. The Centurion declared at the foot of the cross that “Truly this was the Son of God.”

Today, the message of Jesus should open our eyes too, to the divine truths.  As people who had been blind to everything that was not material gain, began to see God’s love and discovered his plans for them, we should also discover God’s plans for us.

Deaf people regained hearing and dumb people spoke again. Jesus healed the deaf-mute boy (Mk 9:25-27). Jesus healed a deaf and dumb man (Mk 71:31). The message of Jesus brought about revolutionary changes during his time and during the last twenty centuries.  Zacchaeus listened to the teachings of Jesus and became a changed man. Mary Magdalene listened to the message of Jesus and expressed her grief in tears. The thief on the cross heard the forgiving words of Jesus and prayed for his mercy.  St Paul heard the voice of Jesus, and he left everything to follow Him. The voice of Jesus called St. Francis of Assisi, and he abandoned his ambition in order to follow Jesus. The words of Jesus fall on our ears, when we listen to the passages from the Bible, and when we listen to the preaching of the word of God. From our ears it should pierce into our hearts.

There is a story about St Thomas Aquinas. After he had finished Summa Theologica, being pleased with his meritorious work Jesus asked him what he desired. St Thomas replied, "Only you Lord. Only you”.  When the word of God reaches our very essence we will be able to give up everything and declare with St Thomas, I want nothing but you Lord!

These are the miracles that should happen among us today. So the church will be able to declare:

“The blind see, the lame walk
lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear,
and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor.”