It’s pretty clear from his life that John Baptist loved God and desired to follow God’s will without counting the cost.
John had no family or children.
He never lived in a comfortable home.
He shunned the the cities and towns of Israel and lived in alone with God in the desert.
He was a holy man who was very familiar with the Old Testament or the law and the prophets.
After years of prayer and discerning God’s will he set out to prepare the way of the Lord by preaching a baptism of repentance.
In the spirit of Old Testament Prophets John was not afraid to shake things up his words were meant to move people from their complacency.
He warned anyone who would listen to look deep within themselves and repent of their sins and because God was coming and he wasn’t going to be happy if they didn’t change their ways.
If you think back to last week’s Gospel you will remember that John didn’t mince words.
When he saw the Sadducees and Pharisees or the religious leaders of his time coming to be baptized he called them a bunch of of snakes or a brood of vipers. (No John wasn’t very diplomatic at all, he prefered 2X4 Therapy)
In today’s Gospel we experience a different side of John.
He is in prison and he hears about Jesus’ life and ministry and he begins to wonder if Jesus really is the Messiah.
He begins to ask himself why isn’t Jesus shaking thing up?
When is the baptism of fire coming?
Why aren’t the bad guys being vanquished and Kingdom of God established?
He probably wondered what happened to the mission he had made every sacrifice for.
You see like many of his contemporaries John expected the Messiah to be a powerful warrior King.
And Jesus the Messiah was completely different than John expected.
Instead of calling everyone out, he simply forgave their sins.
Instead of threatening divine retribution Jesus healed people of their illnesses.
Instead of vanquishing pagan Romans, Jesus challenged his followers to love their enemies and do good to those who persecute them.
So when John heard what Jesus was doing it stands to reason that he was confused and maybe discouraged. So sent his disciples to ask if Jesus was indeed the Messiah or should they wait for someone else.
When the disciples… asked Jesus John’s question
Jesus didn’t get angry, he didn’t ask why is John doubting?
And he did not say flat out Yes I am, the Messiah rather he
he sought to comfort John and calm his doubts by citing scripture passages from the prophets which foretold a different kind of Messiah..
“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.
That’s the kind of Messiah that Isaiah foretold and that’s the kind of Messiah Jesus came to be.
The friars in our house still watch the news together every night before our meetings.
The ratings say not many people do that anymore and the commercials for different medicines on the news reveal the age of most of the viewers.
I won’t go into the details in Church just watch the evening news one night and you’ll get the point.
This week there have been several stories about the horrible massacre in an African American Church in Charleston.
It’s very moving to see that almost everyone to a person, the victims and the families of the victims, have stated that they want to forgive or that they are trying to forgive Dylann Roof for his unspeakable deed.
Of course they are heartbroken,
of course, they may have had moments of anger and resentment
but as they follow Jesus down the road of life they know what He is calling them to do and they are trying to do it.
John the Baptist would have been an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth kind of guy.
Jesus’ way of confronting sin was love the sinner away from the sin.
Obviously there is something horrendously wrong with Dylann Roof
He is so filled with anger and hate that he needs to be separated from society.
Anyone who would murder unarmed people in that manner and in that setting is extremely dangerous.
However if we return hate for hate or anger for anger, his horrible act will also take away a little bit of our humanity. It will make us just a little like him.
And if that happens then evil will wins and goodness, mercy, forgiveness and love will lose.
And so good people on this Third Sunday of Advent all of us have to look into our hearts and ask ourselves when we are confronted with pain or hurt,
when we suffer an injustice, how would we respond like Jesus who healed and forgave, or John who would call down fire to vanquish the evil doer.
As we await the coming of the Christ Child let us prepare a place in our hearts for him by praying for all the victims of that terrible shooting and that painful day.
Let’s pray for all victims of violence and hate.
But even more let us commend to God those souls who commit these crimes.
Let us pray that somehow some way that their hardened angry hearts can be transformed by love mercy and forgiveness.
Only when we respond to evil with love can we claim to be authentic followers of Christ.