First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10
The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
R. (cf. Is 35:4) Lord, come and save us.
The LORD God keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Lord, come and save us.
The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.
R. Lord, come and save us.
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations.
R. Lord, come and save us.
Second Reading: James 5:7-10
Be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another,
that you may not be judged.
Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.
Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11
When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.
Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
“If it happened then, it’s happening now.”
Our Scripture professor repeated these words over and over to the class throughout the semester. This was his refrain to teach us the truth of Scripture: the Word is not captured on the page or contained in the past. No, our teacher told us over and over. If it happened in Scripture, it’s happening now, too.
Scripture’s stories are testimonies to how God continues to work in the world—not just in ancient history, but in the present tense. Today’s readings emphasize this truth through Jesus’ own words. When asked by Saint John the Baptist whether He is the one the people have been waiting for, Jesus invokes the Prophet Isaiah as proof.
Go and tell what you hear and see, He says. All the wonders that the Prophet foretold (the same that we sing in today’s Psalm, too) are happening before the people’s eyes. Through Jesus’ work in the world, God gives food to the hungry, sight to the blind, freedom to captives, protection to strangers, and justice to the oppressed.
If it happened then, it’s happening now. The risen Christ is at work in the world in powerful ways. God’s Spirit is still on the move. We know this, because in our own lives, we have experienced this truth, too. We have been deaf to God’s voice, but now we learn to hear. We have been blind to truth, but we begin to see. We have stumbled to walk in God’s way, but now we are strengthened and healed.
Our world is full of darkness, full of hatred and fear, full of people who are blind and deaf to God’s love. What are we to do as disciples, the ones who seek to follow Christ today?
Isaiah instructs us: “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God . . . he comes to save you.” The psalmist sings for us: “Lord, come and save us.” James encourages us: “You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm.” And Advent reminds us that behold, God is still breaking into our world, still asking to be born in our hearts.
If it happened then, it’s happening now. What good news does God want you to go and tell?[Tweet “What good news does God want you to go and tell? // @laurakfanucci”]
When have you been able to see after being blind? When have you been raised up? What in your life has been healed by God? Reflect on one way that God has transformed your life. Imagine who might need to hear the beauty of your witness.
Laura Kelly Fanucci is a mother, writer, and theological researcher. She and her husband are raising three little boys in the suburban wilds of Minnesota. You can find out more about her here.