Reflection: Third Sunday of Advent

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Is.35:1-6,10; Ps.145; 2nd Reading – Jm.5:7-10; Gospel – Mt.11:2-11]


In today’s Gospel we hear that John the Baptist, although in prison, heard what Christ was doing and since he was prevented from meeting Jesus, John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask him if he is the one or if they should continue to wait for someone else. Perhaps John is reconsidering his views of the Messiah, or else (which is more likely) John wants to show what type of Messiah the disciples should look for. As always, even though the answer could have been a simple “yes” or “no”, Jesus tells John’s disciples what the Prophets had already said about the Messiah. But Jesus does not limit himself in saying what is written about him, he also invites them to give evidence of what they hear and see. Therefore Jesus

(1) sends the messengers back to give evidence,

(2) tells them what is written about him by the Prophets and

(3) adds that blessed (or happy) is the man that continues to have faith in Jesus.

Then, Jesus speaks about John the Baptist to those who were listening to him and does the same thing for John as John has done for him: Jesus tells his listeners who John is, by stating what has been written about John in the Scriptures i.e. the one to prepare the way. Jesus says that John is a Prophet and, at the same time, he is more than a Prophet because he was the one to prepare the way of the Lord Jesus. It seems, therefore, that the greatness of John lies in the fact that John was the last Prophet to be sent to prepare the immediate coming of the Lord.

Up to this point, it is quite easy to follow the line of thought of today’s Gospel. But then, as if the author wants to prompt us to stop and think a little deeper, he presents a statement made by Jesus that is not quite straightforward to understand … especially for those who are not familiar with the word of God. Jesus says: ‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.’ What is Jesus trying to say to us? Is Jesus praising those who already form “part of the kingdom” because they believed in Jesus and therefore are greater than the greatest person that can be found on earth? Matthew, the Gospel writer, is placing this difficulty in front of us in order to prompt us think deeper about it. How many times have we heard this gospel and yet we did not even pause for a moment to think about or maybe even have the courage ask about this statement? Could this be another motive to prompt us to spend some time to think about the Word of God that we hear quite often, and yet we do not dedicate enough time to understand it? Maybe in this season of Advent we can try to give time for ourselves to meditate … while continuing to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord!

“Lord, thank you for giving us a reason to rejoice!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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