A Day in the Life of a Former Campus Priest at CUA, Now the Pastor of a GREAT Parish is Kensington CT.. ST. Paul Church
Saturday, December 11, 2010
3rd Sunday of Advent 2010 - Year A
John the Baptism was a real person.
He is not a myth or a story.
He lived and breathed and laughed and cried like you and me.
He was a holy man, a passionate man,
There is no doubt that he knew of his miraculous birth,
and from when he was a little boy knew that he that God had a special plan for him.
When we hear of John again years later
He has become an itinerant preacher calling people to repentance.
If you read the accounts in the Gospels it becomes clear that he was not calm or gentle in his ministry.
He was driven a desperate man.
He was hard on the people and he was hard on himself.
He lived in the dessert in the poorest of poor conditions because
material things and comforts did not mean anything to him.
He was a man on a mission.
John was all these things because he was sure without a shadow of a doubt that when the Messiah came so would God's judgment.
The Gospel today is difficult to understand
The scholars I've read look at it in two different ways.
The first one is simply this.
To many it appears that John is having doubts in prison.
Maybe, just maybe prison was taking its toll.
John had expected that the Messiah would come in a triumphant manner and judge the world.
That's why John was so desperate to get people to change their lives
He was convinced time was short.
And when all of these thing didn’t happen as he expected maybe he just wasn’t sure anymore about Jesus.
Maybe he had doubts,
and so it follows that he sent ijs trusted friends to talk to Jesus and find out what was going on.
“Are you the one who is to come or should we wait for someone?” he asked
Another interpretation of this passage goes like this.
John really had no doubts at all.
He knew the answer to his question before he asked it.
John sent his disciples to Jesus so that they would get to know him
and follow him.
Remember John's famous saying. “I must decrease he must increase.”
Sending his disciples to Jesus was just another way for him to decrease.
Scholars who follow this line of thought see John’s sending of his disciples as his last act of love and surrender to Jesus the Messiah.
So we have one passage but two really different interpretations.
Both of teach us something.
The first is simply this...
We should not be afraid of doubt.
Doubt will come to our marriages and relationships.
Doubt will come to our jobs.
Sometimes we will doubt our children or our ability as parents.
Most of us at some point in our lives will doubt ourselves.
Doubt is part of our human condition.
Maybe John was doubting… so what.
Maybe we have our doubts... so what.
If John’s questions was indeed and expression of doubt,
then it is important for us see how he handled it
and to listen to Jesus’ response.
Jesus did not get angry or upset that John was doubting.
He did not send his disciples back with a correction or rebuke
Rather he tried to use his good deeds to help John find consolation.
Jesus wanted John to find consolation as he suffered in prison.
When we have doubts God does not get angry with us but rather he wants to find a way to help us understand.
He wants us to find consolation.
The lesson for us is simple…
It’s ok to doubt.
Doubt may be the next step to a deeper faith
What’s important is that we follow John’s example and seek to understand.
If John was really not doubting at all but rather surrendering his dearest friends and followers to Jesus.
Then there is also a very important lesson for us indeed.
Love and sacrifice go hand in hand.
If John was sending his disciples to Jesus he did so because he loved them,
if John was sending his disciples to Jesus he did so because knew it would be best for them
John also knew that without them he would be more alone
He knew that he would be more at the mercy of his jailers and King Herod.
Yet love called John to sacrifice even his last remaining followers and that is what he did. The Lesson here is simple Love and sacrifice often go hand in hand.
Let us imitate John the Baptist
When doubt is a part of our lives let's not wallow in it but
rather let's do everything we can to find the answers we need.
When love calls let us not be afraid to answer no matter what the cost