Matthew 11: 7-8
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes?
The question about what the crowds were expecting when they went to see John in the wilderness contains one of the more poignant confrontations for people of faith. The gap between what we expect to see and experience and what we actually see and experience. As people it is more often than not our expectation that shapes our experiences in life and so too of God.
If we listen carefully to the narratives told about Jesus life by the different gospel writers there is an unruliness about the, they are filled with surprises, even after years of reading the stories they can surprise us. Similarly, the promise of Jesus return for which we wait at Advent, is not something that we control or is easily contained within our expectations.
Learning to see beyond our conditioned and controlled responses is part of our growth in faith. This talk by John is a humbling lesson in looking beyond the surface expectations to the story which lies behind. Despite its origins in the U.S.A. it is a story similar to many which I have heard repeated among many people who live on our streets in Australia.
What do we expect to see? A reed shaken in the wind…