Teacher, St. Patrick Catholic School (Louisville, Kentucky)
My niece, Emma Cate, likes to ask lots of questions. “Aunt Sarah, why don’t you come to visit with a boyfriend like everyone else? Aunt Sarah, why do you pray from that book? Dad, why do people make fun of other people when they don’t like something about them? Why does Conlyn always know when it is 5pm and it’s time for her to eat?” Those questions show how much she is thinking and trying to understand the experiences in her life. Because she is curious and asks the questions, she has the opportunity to think about things and not just take them for granted.
In the Gospel reading today, John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask Jesus the question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus honors their question and responds by encouraging them to notice all the things that are happening around them like the blind being able to see, the lame walking, the lepers being cleansed, the deaf hearing, the dead being raised, and the poor having the good news shared with them. These are all amazing things that show the tremendous power of God’s presence through Jesus working on the earth. He then takes it a step further, by reminding them that even though they might initially have had different motivations for seeing John the Baptist, he was truly a faith-filled man who had an important message about repentance and preparing their hearts for God.
Because those followers asked that important question, Jesus was able to draw them deeper into the joy and beauty of God working in their world and in their lives. He was able to help them to see beyond their initial curiosity regarding John the Baptist, to see the importance of his message. Hopefully, they left that conversation changed for the better and more able to notice God’s gifts in each moment and each encounter.
As I pray with this, I think I hear God reminding us to bring our questions to him so that he can help us through them. When we pray, can you and I ask God about the things that are puzzling us and keeping us from fully trusting him? When difficult things happen to me, and I don’t think it’s fair or just, or I don’t know what to do to solve a problem, can I take it to God without pretending I have all the answers? Can I get beyond my desire for God to wave the magic wand and make things the way I want them to be immediately? What are some of the questions that I need to ask so that God can enter in and help me to go deeper? What are some of the questions you have in your heart? Are there things you don’t understand? Are there miracles that you have noticed that you can’t quite grasp and walk to talk to him about?
When we ask the questions, God can speak to us like he spoke to John the Baptist’s followers. Then, hopefully, we too can see his presence all around us and all the ways he is working in our lives each and every moment. Hopefully, we will be able to rejoice with grateful hearts for all that God is doing within us, within our community, and within our world.
Advent is such a wonderful time to be thinking about this and asking these questions. Advent is a time of joyful waiting and joyful giving. This is “Gaudete” Sunday, so let us rejoice in the knowledge that God cares about every one of us intimately and wants to know the questions we hold in our hearts. He wants to come and move us beyond our fears and to help us recognize all the ways he is right here among us and wants to be a part of our lives.
An Advent booklet I have been using these last few weeks has some beautiful thoughts about this. I’d like to close with a quote from this reflection. “Only Christ can fill us and if there’s anything we know from the Gospels, it’s if you ask the Lord a question, he will not only answer, but fulfill you. When you ask the question in faith, you will be amazed. Like the blind who regained their sight, you will begin to see the face of God and the good he does in your life. Like the deaf who begin to hear, you will be able to discern the direction where he’s leading you. Like the lame now able to walk, you will stand forgiven and healed from even the most crippling sin. Like the lepers who were cleansed, you will be healed from every offense against you, from the deepest brokenness of your heart, and like the dead who were raised again, you will live in the joy of the Resurrection. Jesus does not disappoint. He does not shame. He just loves. And in this season, he is calling you a little closer to him.”