Expectations! They energize us. They frustrate us! Realistic expectations help us accomplish our goals. False expectations get us into trouble; they break our hearts. Many couples break up because of false expectations: they expect more than their relationship can possibly deliver.
In today's Gospel, can't we almost hear John the Baptist's heart breaking? He is languishing in a prison cell, soon to be killed. He sends his messengers to Jesus with a simple question: "Are you the Promised One or should we look for another?" John has given his all with the expectation that before he dies, good would triumph. He probably expected, as did most Jewish people of the time, the "Promised One" who would defeat the Roman Empire occupying their country, and then become the new king of Israel. Well, it wasn't happening, and John was devastated!
We know that feeling, don't we? Dashed hopes. Shattered expectations. Whatever it may be, marriage or parenting, business or pleasure, we've had the experience of reality falling far short of our expectations : sometimes so far short that we feel abandoned and betrayed. We don't know our next move.
In the Gospel, Jesus hears John's question: "Are you the Promised One or should we look for another?" Jesus responds, "You've got the wrong expectations. You expect me to do everything myself. Sorry, that's not my work. That's your work. My work is to help you do your work, our work, of promoting peace and justice in the world, even in the face of trouble and extreme difficulties. I need you, and you need me"
Jesus then tells the messengers John sent: "Tell John what you've seen here: the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear and dead people are raised to life. I'll do the same for you. I'll heal your hurts : if you'll let me. I'll open your eyes and ears to real life, to genuine happiness and peace of mind even on your worst of days : if you'll let me. I will not remove you from adversity, but I will be at your side and walk you through it. I will teach you to dance in the rain till your journey is complete : if you'll let me." Then Jesus speaks these words to John's messengers and to us in church this morning: "This is my promise to you, and I will not take back my promise!"
We listen to Jesus and welcome his promise. We can face our future with a calm, confident, realistic expectation. We have Jesus' word on it!