A Vincentian View: A Message for the Baptist

by | Dec 21, 2022 | Formation, Reflections | 1 comment

Are you surprised when John sends some of his disciples to Jesus to ask him who he is?

John has been preaching about the one who is coming after him:

“I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
(Mt 3:11-12)

One hears the force and reach in these words.  John seems to have a clear vision of the aggressive and evaluative character of the Messiah whose advent he proclaims.

Yet, the Jesus who appears on the scene is not like that.  When the disciples of the imprisoned John come before Jesus, he is clear on what they should tell John.  It should flow from the experience of their eyes and ears:

“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.”
(Lk 7:22-23)

Jesus couches his identity in a ministry of healing and proclamation.  Compassion and communion drive his actions, as do renewal and life.  John will need to rethink his expectations of the one who comes after him whose sandals he is not worthy to carry.

John had spoken the truth about Jesus, but not the whole truth.  Jesus offers him a lesson that will change some of his perspective.  One learning is certainly that John does not define the way in which Jesus comes or acts or speaks.  All this happens according to God’s will and working.  John must learn to accept this way of God’s movement.  John himself must change and ready his heart for a different coming.  His preparation of the way of the Lord needs to include a putting in order of his own thinking.  From this perspective, the prison time of the Baptist may offer a certain blessing.  Now, he can reflect on the new pieces of the arrival of “the one who is to come” (Lk 7:19-20).  He can marvel at God’s blessings for his people and begin to appreciate once again the mysterious and greathearted character of the providence of the Lord.

The Advent/Christmas season places us at the beginning of this plan as we await and celebrate the coming of the one who is to come.  He arrives as an infant cherished by a loving family in a humble setting.  As Vincentians, we stand with John the Baptist in seeking to know the depths of the ways that Jesus comes among us.  We hear the encouragement to recognize the Lord’s presence and ministry in the person of those who are poor.  And, we pray for an appreciation of his continued coming among us and through us.  Maranatha.

1 Comment

  1. Paule Freeburg

    Well your insights always lead me to a deeper contemplation on the topic Thank you!