(Isaiah 35:1-6, 10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11)

In the course of preparing the way for the Messiah by calling people to a baptism of repentance, John stepped on the toes of people of position, power and privilege; and is now languishing in prison as a result. Then, the expected Messiah on whose account he was imprisoned appears to care less about the fate of His forerunner, let alone his release. Did the prophets not say that one of the signs of the Messiah is that He will set prisoners free? And if this is so, should John not be among the first beneficiaries, having been imprisoned in the course of preparing the way for Him? The expectations of John failed, as Jesus did not even visit him in prison. John must indeed have been very bitterly disappointed at Jesus.

John’s idea of the Messiah could be seen in his preaching: “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with Holy Spirit and fire”. For John, the Messiah will be a strict judge. However, from prison, John hears all that Jesus is doing. He heals the sick, blessing the gentle and the peacemakers, encouraging people that they must not judge one another but indeed love their enemies and even associating with sinners.  So on hearing of Jesus’ deeds, John loses his patients and has no other alternative but to send his disciples to ask Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?”

Jesus responds to John’s question, perfectly fall in harmony with the prophetic message we heard in the first reading. To John’s messengers Jesus says: “ 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.” And Jesus ended by chipping in a seemingly warning to all of us: “Happy is the woman or man who does not lose faith; who does not take offence at me.” Taking offence at the Lord is what John was at the verge of doing.

Taking offence at the Lord is what we do now and then when our efforts to fashion God in our own image are met with frustrations. At those moments when we are faced with troubles and challenges that we think should not be our portion as Christians or believers and still we think God does nothing and care less. Jesus is telling all of us: “Yes, I am indeed the Messiah, but a Messiah of a different kind; and you have no right to take offense at Me for not playing by your own rules of the game.”

Jesus can meet all our expectations, but He must not; and so we should allow Him to be the Messiah after His own fashion and follow Him in His own ways. We are the follow the ways of Jesus and not Him to follow our ways. Know the plans of Jesus for you and not conditioning Him to adjust to your own plans. He has plans for each and every one of us at his coming. All His plans are good, wait patiently as his coming draws near, and do not take offence at Him when your own expectations are not met. Jesus knows the best for us and His plan is always for our own good.

May God give us the grace to abandon ourselves totally to His will and to His ways.