Our Struggle of Faith – Third Sunday of Advent

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Third Sunday of Advent


Matthew 11:2-11

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus said to them in reply, “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 to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “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 clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, as I begin this prayer, I ask for the grace of an increased faith. You know that I believe, but help my unbelief. You know that I love you. Help me to grow in my love for you and for my neighbor. Open my heart to receive the graces you wish to give me during this meditation.


Encountering Christ:


  1. “Are You the One Who Is to Come?”: The perennial question directed towards Jesus is one of identity: “Who are you?” The Pharisees asked the question at various times and in various ways. Pilate asked during Jesus’s trial. The apostles asked each other after he calmed the storm on the sea. Jesus himself posed the question to his apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” Now John the Baptist is encouraging his disciples to ask the same question. As Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote, “Our Blessed Lord left the world without leaving any written message. His doctrine was Himself.”1 Christianity is not so much about doctrine as about knowing the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.


  1. Why Is John Asking the Question?: John the Baptist was the precursor. He had prepared the people for the coming of the Messiah. He had seen the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus as a dove, and he declared Jesus to be the “Lamb of God.” So why does John now send his disciples to ask if Jesus is the one to come? Does he not know? Is it a pedagogical tool to get his disciples to discover firsthand what he already knows? Alternatively, could it be that John is struggling and questioning his faith while imprisoned? While we may not know the answer regarding John, it is important to realize that to question and to struggle can be a common human experience.2


  1. Challenges Are Opportunities to Grow in Faith: At some point, everyone will wrestle with his or her faith. As Cardinal Ratzinger said, “One never achieves complete faith. It must be lived again and again in life and suffering.”3 Why is this so? Faith, like love, is lived concretely, not merely professed, and in our fallen world, we will have struggles and temptations to disbelief. If God, however, permits circumstances to try our faith, it is because he wishes to draw a greater good from them. Our faith grows to the degree to which we exercise it amidst the challenges of daily life. Fortunately, our gracious God will never allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to resist. When sorely tried, we must rely upon his grace and remember that he is giving us an opportunity to mature in our faith. It was precisely through his struggles that John the Baptist’s testimony became all the more resplendent.


Conversing with Christ: Dear Jesus, I recognize you as my Lord, God, and Savior. Give me the grace to acknowledge you in word and in action before men. Let me not be afraid of the challenges that arise on this day; rather, let me take them as opportunities to grow in faith, hope. and love.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will embrace the small difficulties and inconveniences as an opportunity to grow in faith.


For Further Reflection: “Is It a Sin to Doubt God’s Existence?” by Matt Nelson, Catholic Answers, 9/13/17, https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/is-it-a-sin-to-doubt-gods-existence.


Fr. John Bullock, LC, works with Regnum Christi in Cincinnati, Ohio.

1 Sheen, Fulton J. The Life of Christ. New York: Image Books Doubleday, 153.
2 https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/is-it-a-sin-to-doubt-gods-existence.
3 Ratzinger. God and the World. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, circa p. 23.

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