Today’s Gospel from St. Matthew Chapter 11: v 2-11 begins with the words: ‘John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing… John in his prison … the word ‘his’ strikes me very forcefully – John the Baptist who for his great courage in telling no less a person than the King of his sin, was imprisoned and eventually beheaded.

Through the centuries thousands of people, men, women and children have suffered and continue to suffer in our day, the most horrendous imprisonment, torture and often, death, for their faithfulness to God’s law.

But there are many kinds of imprisonment, and indeed we can all at one time or another in our lives, be in some kind of prison. The prison of fear, insecurity, selfishness, depression, pride or prejudice, illness of mind, spirit or body, unbelief – the list is endless.

John had heard in his prison all that Christ was doing, the Gospel tells us.

In my life, in all our lives, we have read and heard through the Scriptures, what Christ did on earth concerning every form of suffering of his people – it is important to remember that this is not only in the past, two thousand years ago, but in the present, and this will be so until the end of time.

If we take time to reflect on and to listen to the gentle inner voice of Jesus, we will hear and perceive all he has done and is doing in our own lives, and in the lives of those who touch our lives. His Word is ‘alive and active’ and always will be. How often do we hear those blessed words: ‘O that today you would listen to his voice…’(Ps.94). ‘Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and you will find rest for your souls (Mt.11: 28-30).

Advent is a time of quiet prayer, a time for awaiting Christ’s coming, a time for drawing closer to God- when we do this, love grows in our hearts, we will then feel the need to share this love with others, especially those near and dear to us whom we perceive to be in some kind of inner imprisonment. To love someone is to bid him or her to grow, to meet them at the level where they withdrew into themselves because they thought they were alone and no one cared, people have to feel they are loved very deeply before they can begin to emerge from their inner prison, let us gently bring them to Jesus, the greatest Lover – all He wants in order to free us from whatever imprisons us is that we do not loose our faith and confidence in Him.
Then truly, we can pray in the words of St. Paul to the Phil.4: 4-5, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice, the Lord is close at hand.