Thursday, December 9, 2010

Courage! Do not be afraid!

Third Sunday of Advent Year A

Very often when we are surrounded by so many problems, we begin to question if God can really answer our prayers. Sometime, we can even begin to doubt that there is a God. When we are caught in the prisons of our fear, depression, failure and pain, its difficult to see a way out. Likewise, for many of us who are serving or have been serving the Church in different ways- when we encounter some setbacks, criticisms, lack of support or appreciation from others, we too might choose to withdraw from all activities.

That must be the experience of John the Baptist in prison. This is the man who had baptized many at the River Jordan, who had preached about repentance, who had prepared the way for the coming of the Messiah. This is the man who had recognized the true identity of Jesus – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In fact, the purpose of his entire life and ministry was to prepare the way for the Messiah. Perhaps, as he now sits in prison, he may have begun to doubt and now wonders whether he had backed the wrong man and had given his life for a foolish cause. And so he sends a delegation to confirm the identity of Jesus. They put this question to Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?”

Jesus then gives this reply: “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; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.” These are words of assurance. They must have rekindled the faith of John the Baptist and prepared him to face death at the hands of King Herod.

Jesus’ words are also good news to us. Indeed, these words are able to “strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees, and say to all faint hearts, ‘Courage! Do not be afraid’” (1st reading). We need to remember these words especially when we feel like giving up. Setbacks, hurts that we received from others, family problems should never be the reasons for us to withdraw from ministry. We must always remember that it is God’s work that we are doing, not our own. We must be clear about our motivation. Are we doing all these things so that we can gain acceptance and respect from others? On the contrary, if we were to follow Jesus, it is never an easy road. Rather than gaining popularity, we will often be seen as a threat. The road that we must travel on is the way of the cross.

Even though the way of discipleship will be difficult, we will be sustained by the words of Jesus – “the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and deaf hear.” No matter how bad things may seem, no matter how dark the situation may appear, we are confident that God in Jesus Christ has already conquered the darkness.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us then be patient until the Lord’s coming. Let us not lose heart. But let us hold on to the promise of Christ – “Happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.”

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