A reflection on the readings for the Third Sunday of Advent, December 11, 2022.
“Show and tell” was one of the things I most enjoyed in elementary school when I was a child. Do you remember this from your childhood, when you had an opportunity to show and tell your friends about your favorite toy, or game, or prized possession? You’d share with them how special it was to you and why you loved it. The purpose of show and tell isn’t just to give us a chance to show off our favorite things, however. It’s a good way for children to practice speaking in front of people and to build confidence in their ability to describe something to others.
Today’s gospel reading takes us a step further than show and tell. We might say that the gospel invites us to “go and tell.” John the Baptist is in prison, and he tells his disciples to go to Jesus and ask if he is the one who is to come. Now, John already knew Jesus was the one – he knew he was the Messiah. But he wanted his followers to find out for themselves. He wanted them to go to Jesus, to have a personal encounter with Jesus that would change them.
Notice how Jesus answers them. Jesus doesn’t answer them directly. Rather, he invites them into the mystery of who he is. He invites them to ponder his words and works so that they can come to believe on their own.
Jesus tells John’s disciples: “Go and tell John what you hear and see.” Notice: he doesn’t say, “Go and tell John what has been heard and seen,” or “Go and tell John what others have heard and seen.” No, he tells them to report back to John what they hear and see. And then he alludes to the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah:
“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.”
Jesus wants us to keep seeking his presence, keep listening to his word, keep witnessing his works in our daily prayer.
John sends his disciples to Jesus so that they can get to know him personally. This invitation – to get to know Jesus personally – is the same for us. Our relationship with Jesus can’t be based simply on what people tell us. Yes, the Church teaches us about who Jesus is; but we have to enter into the mystery of his life, his words, and his works; we have to deepen our personal friendship with Jesus, with personal knowledge of his words and works. This is what John the Baptist wanted for his disciples: he wanted them to know Jesus personally, to see Jesus personally, to hear Jesus personally.
Then what happens is Jesus invites us to go and tell. To go and tell people about him, about who he is and what he’s done; not just for the world, but for us. We shouldn’t merely reiterate what we hear about Jesus from the pulpit; we should be able to share with others what Jesus has done for us personally.
Are you prepared in your heart to go and tell what Jesus has done for you? Do you feel that burning desire in your heart to share Jesus with others? Is your relationship with Jesus personal and deep enough where you can tell people about him? You! It’s not only my joy to go and tell others about Jesus. It’s your job.
Pope Francis has continually called the Church to embrace missionary discipleship. Earlier this month, he reminded us, “All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord.” To give an explicit witness means we must be prepared to share Jesus with others.
On this third Sunday of Advent we celebrate “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete is taken from the first word of the entrance antiphon for the Mass today: rejoice. We rejoice because we are closer to our salvation.
Joy, then, is one way to witness to Jesus. When we have a deep relationship with Jesus, then we have joy in our lives. And with joy in our hearts we desire to go and tell the world about Jesus and what he has done for us.
So, like John’s disciples, keep getting to know Jesus, his words and his works. And then go and tell others about the good news of salvation in Christ.
Image: Adobe Stock. By pressmaster.
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Fr. Michael Najim was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Providence in 2001. He currently serves as the pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Westerly, RI.