Our Gospel passage is one of my favorites during this Advent season. And the question contained within it parallels another “favorite” question of mine found in another Gospel passage. In today’s Gospel from Luke we here the familiar dialog between Jesus and the disciples, those who had gone out into the desert to search for the Baptist. Jesus simply asks them, ““What did you go out to the desert to see, a reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom Scripture says: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you. Jesus is probing their hearts to see if they have listened to the words of the prophet, the only prophet of the New Testament, wondering if they have heard his message. The one to come is the one you must look for, the anointed one, the promised Messiah of God!
On another occasion Jesus asked of his own disciples a similar and very probing question. He was on the road with them and, as if out of the blue, he asks: Who do people say that I am?” I am sure we all remember this passage very well. The disciples offered various opinions and then Jesus cuts straight to the quick: And you, who do you say that I am?” On both of these occasions Jesus is asking those who are seekers, true seekers mind you, what are you looking for? What are you searching for? And in both instances the only true answer can be given from the heart, a heart prepared by grace and one filled with the message of all the prophets before John the Baptist himself. There is only one we are to search for, only one, whether we are in the desert or on the road, in palaces or poor homes, the only one we can seek is Jesus the Lord, the promised one. The messiah. May this be the longing of our hearts now and during the rest of this Advent season. God bless you.
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Saint Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.