Advent 3 Friday
“Jesus answered and said to them: Go and tell John what you see and hear: The blind see; the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed; and the deaf hear, the dead rise up, and the gospel is preached to the poor. And blessed is he who is not offended by me.”
With all these words Christ mightily counters the carnal and worldly understanding John’s disciples had of Christ’s coming. They thought that the great King, about whom John had preached so highly that he would not be worthy to untie his shoes, would move about in such splendor that everything would be pure gold and precious adornments and the streets would be paved with pearls and silk. Now, while they had their eyes raised up so highly and waited for such splendor, Christ tears them down and places before their eyes the blind, lame, deaf, dead, mute, poor, and everything else that is diametrically opposed to such splendor. He lets himself be found in such a form not worthy of servant in a hospital, let alone of such a King whose shoes the great man John is unworthy to untie. He wants to tell John’s disciples: “Let go your lofty vision. Do not consider my person and appearance but look at the works I do. The lords of this world, since they rule by power, must have rich, high, healthy, strong, intelligent, skilled people around them…But, since my kingdom does not seek benefits from others, but only gives benefits to them, begins self-sufficient and not in need of anyone, I cannot tolerate around me those who already have enough, who are healthy, rich, strong, pure, alive, good, and skilled in all matters. For I am useless to these; they cannot get anything from me. In fact, they would cause me shame, because they make it appear as if I needed them and got benefits from them, as the lords of this world get benefits from their subjects. This is why I must act differently and must keep to those who can get benefits from me. I must surround myself with the blind, the lame, the mute, and all kinds of infirmities. The manner and nature of my kingdom demands this. This is also why I must act so that such people are able to be around me.” Here the word concerning being offended by Christ properly follows. Why? Because the two seem to be so far apart: Christ’s contemptible appearance and the glorious testimony of John. Nature was unable to harmonize the two. Now, the entire Scripture was based on Christ and it was dangerous to miss him. Therefore, nature said: “Should this one be the Christ Scripture speaks of? Should he be the one whose shoes John does not consider himself worthy to untie–while I consider him barely worthy to wipe my own shoes?” This is why it, truly, is a great grace not to be offended by Christ. No better advice or help can be given here than to look to the works and to compare them to Scripture. Otherwise it is impossible to fend off the offense. The form, the appearance, the gestures are too lowly and too contemptible.