12-9-19 - Are You the One?

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)

Fast forward several months or years from the scene we reflected on last week. John, the vital, vivid, vigorous prophet of the wilderness, calling people to repentance at the Jordan, is now languishing in Herod’s dungeon for the crime of having called out the king for marrying his sister-in-law. Speaking truth to power can get you burned. Herod kind of likes having him there – we are told he enjoyed theological conversations with John – but the prophet is not free. Captivity can do things to even the strongest of people.

Here we get a glimpse of John in despair, perhaps wondering if he was wrong after all. Among the most poignant words in the Bible are these:
“When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’

This is the man who pointed to Jesus and said, “Look! ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Now it's, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” John's question speaks for all of us at one time or another, when suddenly we’re not sure, when too much time has passed without a sign of God’s power at work. "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?"

Jesus’ response is to point not to himself, but to his works, to the fruit of his ministry: 
‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’

When our faith dims and our hope weakens, we can remind ourselves of the goodness of God which we have tasted. We can remind each other of the answered prayer and amazing “coincidences” that led to even more amazing outcomes. We can sharpen our awareness of divine activity around us. We can focus our vision on how we see the Spirit at work in other people – it’s often easier to see God working in others than in ourselves.

This week, keep watch: where are you catching glimpses of holiness? Write it down. Remind yourself. Remind a friend.

We all have moments like John, even without the suffering he endured. And we all know people asking that question. Jesus' answer is for us as well: "Go and tell what you hear and see." I pray you will hear and see amazing things today, this week, for all time, and that you get really good at telling it. For God is still doing amazing things in us and through us and around us, and there are a lot of people in captivity waiting to hear that Good News.

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