Third Sunday of Advent
Gospel: Matthew 11: 2-11
Last Sunday we heard John the Baptist introducing the Kingdom of God to the expecting multitude. Today we have a skeptical John for our reflection. He grew doubtful if Jesus was the Messiah promised. His doubt was beneficial for us. Jesus did not give a direct answer, instead went on to describe what is happening around Him.
“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.” (Mt 11:5). One could be tempted to believe that Jesus was boasting about the miracles he was performing. There is more to it.
He was referring to the Messianic prophecies of Isais (26:19; 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1) and thus inviting them to believe that He was the Messiah foretold. He was, in other words, describing the characteristics of the Kingdom of God on earth, that had been inaugurated with His arrival. The Kingdom of God is barrier-free. He broke open all barriers that existed, to announce the arrival of the Kingdom of God.
We live in a more inclusive world. Back then, physical and mental challenges excluded people from society. Sickness like leprosy excluded people so cruelly. The healing miracles of Jesus were not just about healing but were acts of including them in the Kingdom of God He was announcing. In most of the healing miracles, we see Jesus touching them and healing them. Jesus was touching the untouchable and thus making them whole. Until then one would touch a clean person but would restrain from touching that thought to be unclean. Jesus turned the table around. He touched the unclean and they were made clean and more important: they were included in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus proclaimed an inclusive Kingdom. He did not exclude anyone based on their sex; the women were included and well respected in His Kingdom. He did not want sin to exclude anyone from the Kingdom; He offered forgiveness generously. He did not want ethnicity to be a reason for exclusion; He extended His saving hands to Samaritans and gentiles.
Don’t assume that devil is on vacation since then. He is working overtime creating virtual barriers. Think of the economic barriers that separate us so cruelly. The unborn children are separated from society as if barriers to convenience and comfort. The world is busy making new barriers while Jesus is proclaiming a barrier-free Kingdom.
As we are approaching Christmas, let us do a fact-checking: ‘Do we build barriers?’ It is high time to break the barriers that we have built within ourselves. Open your eyes to see the multiple barriers you have built over the years within your family; break them with no mercy.
The babe in the manger, whom we are eagerly waiting to welcome, is inviting us to His Kingdom that is inclusive, and barrier-free. He excludes only one set of people: the people who are busy building barriers. Start breaking your barriers and go on including as many as possible; Jesus is busy stretching out his welcoming arms to the barrier-free Kingdom of God.