Once again we hear the news of Jesus opening the eyes of the blind, loosening the tongue of the mute, clearing the ears of the deaf, and curing the lame. So does John the Baptist. Even though Jesus often commands those he cures not to tell anyone, they can’t hold back and the news spreads like wildfire, even into the prison where John is being held. He wants to know if Jesus is the One – or does he?
John knows Jesus. He baptized Him, saw the Holy Spirit descend on Him and heard the Father’s words and now hears the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi fulfilled in the news he receives in prison. He knows… and he recognizes that it is time for his disciples to move on and follow the true Messiah. That is why he sends them to Jesus with the question, “Are you the one or should we look for another?” Jesus responds with words that tell them the prophecies of old are being fulfilled. He is the One.
St. James tells us, be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. On the one hand he wants us to live patiently, as a farmer waits for the weather to produce his crops and for the right time to harvest them, but in the next sentence he warns us that Christ’s second coming is at hand. It sounds imminent, but that was 2,000+ years ago.
In a similar way, Isaiah encourages the people waiting for the Messiah, Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak. He didn’t want the people to grow weary waiting on the Lord. Yes, they often did and fell into sinful living in the midst of their pagan and idolatrous neighbors. It can happen to us, too, if we do not make our hearts firm with the Grace of God given to us by Christ through the Sacraments. That is why the ancient words of Isaiah should still resonate in our hearts. Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, He comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.