The mission of John the Baptist was to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. John firmly believed that Jesus was the Messiah that the prophets spoke of. However, now he is in prison with the threat of death hanging over him, and he begins to have second thoughts. Is he or is he not the long-awaited Messiah?
John’s concept of the Messiah was that of a stern, uncompromising judge who would execute a fiery judgment upon the nation. In his eyes Jesus was not living up to his expectations. Instead of acting like a judge, Jesus was acting like a savior. His friendliness contrasted sharply with the severity of John. John was an ascetic, who lived apart from the people. On the other hand, Jesus mixed with the people, eating and drinking with sinners. John prophesied the judgement of God; Jesus proclaimed the salvation of God.
John realized that his life was coming to an end and he wanted to know for sure, so he sent two of his disciples to question Jesus. They asked Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus could have answered with the simple reply, “Yes, I am he,” but he did not.
We are all familiar with the saying that actions speak louder than words. So, instead of trying to convince John’s disciples with words, Jesus pointed to the works he was doing. “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.” Those works were what the Prophet Isaiah predicted for the messianic times as we heard in our First Reading today.
Yes, Jesus was the one who was to come. But where can we find Jesus today? All we need to do is read the Parable of the Judgment of the Nations in the Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46. Take some time to read it this week and come to recognize Jesus as he comes to us each and every day.
Blessed are we if we do not lose faith in Jesus. And twice blessed are we if, like Jesus, we are able to show forth our faith in deeds of love and mercy. Not only will we see Jesus in them but they will see Jesus in us.
-Fr. Dennis, December 15, 2019