TO CONVINCE THE SKEPTICAL, John the Baptist sent two disciples to ask Jesus directly whether He was the Messiah. They found Him preaching and healing in Galilee, and when He had heard their errand, He said:
“Go and report to John what you have heard and seen: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not scandalized in Me.”
And as they left, He spoke to the people about John, delivering a tribute to the Forerunner and condemning the false rationalizations with which some had rejected him, just as they were now rejecting Christ:
“What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold, those who wear soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, l tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before Thy face, who will make ready Thy way before Thee.’ Amen I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. For all the prophets and the Law have prophesied until John. But from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been enduring violent assault, and the violent have been seizing it by force. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elias who was to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
”But to what shall I liken the men of this generation? It is like children sitting in the market place, who call to their companions, and say, ‘We have piped to you, and you have not danced; we have sung dirges, and you have not mourned.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a devil!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold a glutton and a wine drinker, a friend of publicans and sinners!’ And wisdom is justified by her children.”
Meditation: In answering the messengers of John the Baptist, Our Lord refers to the character of John. Special emphasis is placed by Christ upon the austerity of John’s life, which is contrasted his royal persecutor. In the luxury of our lives, filled with comforts, we have little of the austerity of John the Baptist. Perhaps that is why we have so little of the firmness of character that he displayed.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 67-68. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.