By Fr. NOEL SEBETERO, SDB
3rd Sunday of Advent
Isiah 35: 1-6 James 5: 7-10
Psalm 146 Matthew 11: 2-11
The cathedral of St. Paul in London is truly a majestic building. It is the old gothic cathedral destroyed by the great fire of London in 1666.
The architect of the new cathedral was Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723). If we visit the crypt we shall find the great tombs of famous persons of England. Sir Christopher Wren is also buried there. But his tomb is not in the great style like the others. On top of his tomb one will find a simple epitaph with these words:
“Subtus conditur huius ecclesiae et urbis conditor Christophorus Wren, qui vixit annos ultra nonaginta, non sibi sed bono publico. Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice.”
(Here in its foundation lies the architect of this Church and city, Christopher Wren, who lived beyond ninety years, not for his own profit but for the public good. Reader, if you seek a monument, look around you.)
From prison, hearing the works of Christ, John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus to ask him: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
The precursor does not express complete doubt about Jesus but perplexity that he is not a kind of Messiah he envisions.
“With the little information we have about him, we can surmise that the heavy emphasis on the eschatological judgment the Gospels report in John’s preaching (cf. Mt 3: 1-10) did not appear in the proclamation of Jesus and that this caused John’s wonder.” (John Mckenzie)
Jesus answers in terms of the messianic expectations of the ancient prophets, especially Isaiah. “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 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.”
There are four stages in man’s life when it comes to Christmas. (Jerry Orbos, SVD)
1. When he believes in Santa Claus
2. When he does not believe in Santa Claus
3. When he is Santa Claus
4. When he looks like Santa Claus
As we were puzzled about Santa Claus in our growing years, so, too, were the people who waited for the coming of the Messiah. We hope that our perception of who the Messiah is will become clear and real.
Christmas goes beyond the stories of Santa Claus. It is more than the eye can see, the ear can hear. It is a story of healing ills and confirming of blessing; compassionate works of beneficence; saving miracles and the proclamation of the good news to the poor.
Christmas is about the God who sent his only Son to show His love.
It is about our gratitude to the Savior who became like one of us.
Look around us. What do we see? What do we hear?
Let us be more focused. Many times we cannot see what God is doing right before our very eyes; fail to appreciate what is happening before us. We cannot see not only what He is doing but He himself we notice not.
Christmas is about the God who sent his only Son to show His love. It is about our gratitude to the Savior who became like one of us.
Once upon a time in a village near Cracow, Poland, there lived a rabbi whose name was Yitzhak. He was the son of a famous man, Reb Yekel, whom all the people of his village had loved for his wisdom.
When Reb Yekel died, the whole village mourned, and Rabbi Yitzhak made certain to follow in his father’s footsteps. He was wise and fair, just as his father had been.
And like his father, he also was generous. He never turned away anyone in need, and because so may people came to him for help, before long he had lost all his worldly possessions.
But Rabbi Yitzhak cared nothing for things. He wanted only to be a good man, and that he was. As time passed, though, he grew poorer and poorer, and he began to wish for just one thing: enough money to build a synagogue for his people.
One night he dreamed that he was in the beautiful city of Prague, standing beside a bridge that led to the king’s palace. Beneath that bridge he saw a hole, and in that hole was a bag brimming with gold.
“Ah, how lovely it would be to have that bag of gold,” the rabbi thought, and even in his dream he laughed as he imagined digging up the treasures of kings.
The next night he fell asleep and once again dreamed the same dream. When he woke up the next morning, he did not simply laugh for he understood it as a prophecy.
Quickly he departed for Prague, without a thought for the hardship of such a long journey. He walked for many days, and his old shoes were nearly worn through by the time he reached Prague.
Before long he found the bridge of his dream. His heart pounded with hope. But there was one thing that was different. The bridge had no hole beneath it, and it was guarded day and night by dozens of uniformed guards.
The rabbi could never dig a hole without being discovered, and so he did not dig. Instead he walked back and forth across the bridge, day after day. He returned each day, and as he walked, he gazed below, dreaming of the treasure of kings.
One day a guard spotted the rabbi gazing wistfully beneath the bridge.
“I see you standing here each day,” the guard said. “You seem to be waiting for something. Is there anything I can do to help you?”
The rabbi solemnly shook his head. “It is kind of you to ask,” he said to the guard. “I have walked all the way here from Cracow, for I dreamed that beneath this bridge there was a treasure of gold.”
The guard burst into laughter.
“Ah, so that is why your shoes are worn through. But what a fool you are. I too have dreamed of treasure. Once I dreamed that there was a treasure of kings beneath a stove in a village near Cracow. It was named by a fellow named Yitzhak, son of a man named Yekel,” he said.
“Can you imagine if I’d gone to Cracow and asked for such a man? Everyone would have laughed at me,” the guard added.
The rabbi only smiled when he heard of the guard’s dream. “So you do not believe in the wisdom of dreams?” he asked.
“I believe only what I see,” the guard said. “That which I can see I know is real.”
“Thank you,” Rabbi Yitzhak said.
Then the rabbi returned and walked back home. When he reached his house after his journey, he dug a hole beneath his stove, and there in plain sight, lay the treasure just as the guard had seen it, a treasure of dreams.”
Our treasure – the God whom we seek – is already present in our midst, but so often unrecognized. We search far and wide for that which is already right before our eyes.
Look around you!
Let not the darkness in our midst or the sparkle of the Christmas lights make us lose our focus on the Christmas candle glow. In the thick of the glitter and the flashbulbs, we should not miss this glow. We must find time to look at the sky at night, where the moon is getting bigger and brighter as Christmas day comes closer. (Jerry Orbos, SVD)