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From: Matthew 11:2-11

The Mission of John the Baptist. Jesus' Reply

[2] Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent
word by his disciples [3] and said to him, " Are you he who is to come, or
shall we look for another?" [4] And Jesus answered them. "Go and tell John
what you hear and see: [5] the blind receive their sight and the lame walk.
lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the
poor have good news preached to them. [6] And blessed is he who takes no
offense at me."

[7] As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John:
"What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the
wind? [8] Why then did you go out? To see a mana clothed in soft raiment?
Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses. [9] Why then did
you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. [10]
This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before thy
face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.'

[11] "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one
greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven
is greater than he."


2. John knew that Jesus was the Messiah (cf. Mt 3:13-17). He sent his
disciples to Jesus so that they could shed their mistaken notions about the
kind of Messiah to expect, and come to recognize Jesus.

3-6. Jesus replies to the Baptist's disciples by pointing to the fact that
they are witnessing the signs which the ancient prophecies said would mark
the advent of the Messiah and his Kingdom (cf. Is 35:5, 61:1; etc). He says.
in effect, that he is the prophet who "was to come".

The miracles reported in the Gospel (chapters 8 and 9) and the teaching
given to the people (chapters 5-7) prove that Jesus of Nazareth is the
expected Messiah.

6. Jesus here corrects the mistaken idea which many Jews had of the Messiah,
casting him in the role of a powerful earthly ruler--a far cry from the
humble attitude of Jesus. It is not surprising that he was a stumbling block
to Jews (cf. Is 8:14-15; 1 Cor 1:23).

11. With John the Old Testament is brought to a close and we are on the
threshold of the New. The Precursor had the honor of ushering Christ in,
making him known to men. God had assigned him the exalted mission of
preparing his contemporaries to hear the Gospel. The Baptist's faithfulness
is recognized and proclaimed by Jesus. The praise he receives is a reward
for his humility: John, realizing what his role was, had said, "He must
increase, but I must decrease" (Jn 3:30).

St John the Baptist was the greatest in the sense that he had received a
mission unique and incomparable in the context of the Old Testament.
However, in the Kingdom of heaven (the New Testament) inaugurated by
'Christ, the divine gift of grace makes the least of those who faithfully
receive it greater than the greatest in the earlier dispensation. Once the
work of our redemption is accomplished, God's grace will also be extended to
the just of the Old Alliance. Thus, the greatness of John the Baptist, the
Precursor and the last of the prophets, will be enhanced by the dignity of
being made a son of God.

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text
taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries
made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of
Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock,
Co. Dublin, Ireland.

7 posted on 12/12/2004 8:29:00 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Third Sunday of Advent
First Reading:
Second Reading:
Isaiah 35:1-6, 10
Psalm 146:6-10
St. James 5:7-10
Matthew 11:2-11

And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men. For there is in them hope of repentance that they may attain to God. See, then, that they be instructed by your works, if in no other way. Be ye meek in response to their wrath, humble in opposition to their boasting: to their blasphemies return your prayers; in contrast to their error, be ye stedfast in the faith; and for their cruelty, manifest your gentleness. While we take care not to imitate their conduct, let us be found their brethren in all true kindness; and let us seek to be followers of the Lord(who ever more unjustly treated, more destitute, more condemned?), that so no plant of the devil may be found in you, but ye may remain in all holiness and sobriety in Jesus Christ, both with respect to the flesh and spirit.

 -- St. Ignatius

8 posted on 12/12/2004 8:42:10 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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