President of San Carlos University
Commentary2: Fr. Lino Nicasio, SVD
Professor of Homiletics, Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay City
Principal of St. Jude Catholic School, Manila
Reading 1: Is 35:1-6a, 10
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
R. (cf. Is 35:4) Lord, come and save us.
Reading II: Jas 5:7-10
Gospel: Mt 11:2-11
Once upon a time, a cock also crowed. And a man cried. For he had looked into the eyes of love and remembered that he had been told he would betray his Lord three times even before the cock would crow but once. He cried in remorse and repentance. And today, on the spot where he wept, a Church stands in testimony to the forgiveness that love gave, and the love that forgiveness called to birth.
Cocks crow to announce the break of day. Full light may not yet even be there, but cocks know when day is near. Today, at cockcrow, we remember that when Jesus was born, it was the break of dawn for the world. Let us stretch toward the light, so that we too may learn to be born, like the dawn.
Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus was saddened that though people had gloried in the light of the lamp that was John the Baptist, when Jesus came, the true Light that He was, people did not come to Him as easily.
May the crowing of the cocks today not only wake us from sleep but awaken us to repentance, to a new birth, worthy of Christmas which we pray will come soon.
In today’s gospel, John the Baptist seems to be sending his disciples to Jesus to do a first-hand background check on Jesus and His ministry. What could have prompted John to do so? Let us reflect on the gospel and discover its lessons.
First, we have John’s doubts. The gospel says: “John heard in prison about Christ’s deeds.” Perhaps he was being kept informed about Jesus’ preaching on love, reconciliation, forgiveness and the tremendous love of the Father for His children. This was quite a contrast to John’s “fire and brimstone and God’s judgment” approach in his preaching. Hence John was perhaps wondering or doubting about Jesus’ preaching and ministry. What seems to going on with this Jesus? Hence the “background check” just to be sure. John the Baptist wanted to resolve his and his disciples’ doubts about the one whom he had previously pointed out as “the Lamb of God.”
Second, we have Christ’s answer: “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.” These are “Messianic” acts, proving that Jesus was indeed “He who is to come.” It is worth noting that Jesus did not chide John for his doubts, but rather reassured him that all was as it should be.
Third, we have Christ’s tribute to John the Baptist. He is “more than a prophet;” he is Lord’s messenger, tasked to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, and a truly great person, for “of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen.” John was a man of principle, unafraid of anyone and ready to give his life in defense of truth and moral principles.
What do all these mean for us? First, if we ourselves have doubts about our faith or about God, we should do what John the Baptist did: resolve one’s doubts. We can do so by a careful and reflective reading of the Scriptures, by praying to God for enlightenment, and by consulting reliable persons. Secondly, as Christmas approaches, we should renew our commitment to the Savior by making sure that we are cleansed from the “leprosy” of sin through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and by being “good news” to the poor through our active and respectful assistance to them. And thirdly, we would do well to imitate the Baptist by becoming persons of principle like him, unafraid to stand up for what is right and just before God and people.