Third Sunday of Advent – December 12, 1971 – CNR
The question of John the Baptist we have heard recorded in today’s reading plays an extremely important role in the development of Matthew’s Gospel. Earlier chapters presented both the preaching of Jesus (the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5-7) and his miracles (chapters 8-9). And the whole unit of material leads to the question John asks, “Are you ‘He who is to come’ or are we to look for another?” It is the key question about Jesus of Nazareth; here it is asked of Jesus, but later it will be Jesus himself who asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15)
But John’s question, for Matthew, does not concern only the significance of Jesus. For just before his account of this incident, Matthew records Jesus’ commissioning of the disciples: “Go out and proclaim, ‘The Kingdom of heaven is upon you.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out devils.” (Mt 10:7-8) So it is also the ministry of the disciples, of the Church, that is questioned by John; the significance of the Church also hangs on Jesus’ reply.
The link between the two questions is obvious and immediate. (more…)