About Jesus and John The Baptist

Missionary Weekly Reflection
Advent Week III, 15 December 2019
Isa. 35:1-6a,10; Ps. 146:7,8-9a,9bc-10; Jam. 5:7-10; Mat. 11:2-11

Jesus is at work, John The Baptist is in prison. This setting is important for comprehending the question that will arise. The Forerunner in fact can be doubtful too. He expects a Messiah who comes as a Judge, who will judge and punish. Last week gospel said that John was waiting for a Messiah who was prepared with “winnowing fork” to separate the qualified persons from those who were with “chaffy quality”. John expected a Messiah who was prepared with an axe to “cut the root of the unfruitful tree”. Those who did not bear fruit according to Torah will be eliminated. The Romans who was now oppressing the people will be definitely crushed. However, the figure and ministry of Jesus did not show such signs of the Messiah. John himself was imprisoned because he called for justice. Why did Jesus keep silent? Why did He let the depraved king like Herod still rule? Why did He let the Romans oppress His people? Or, perhaps He is not “the one who is to come”? (v. 3).

Jesus turns out to be a different Messiah. He is not the Messiah as most people are expecting. Jesus appears as the Messiah who has mercy not judges, He sets free not revenges, He heals and restores (v. 4-5): the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deft hear, the dead are raised. The sick and disabled men are normally considered as “half human”. They are marginalized group in the community. Sick and physically disabled mean unclean and marginalized socially and religiously. By healing them, Jesus is restoring their position in social and religious point of view. His healing is not biomedical but ethnomedical: by healing the sick and disabled, Jesus is healing a nation/people (etnos). It is the social order that He is rearranging: those who have been marginalized, now are regained their role in the society and worship. For Jesus, it’s useless to replace the depraved leaders, if the people remain impoverished. It doesn’t mean a lot to repel the oppressor, if the oppressor mentality has been rooted in the society and religious order itself.

After affirming His own Messianic characteristic, Jesus affirms the quality of John the Baptist’s identity. He is more than a Prophet. He is even excelling all humans (v. 9, 11). However, the excellence does not make him proud. Two of his virtues are suitable to emulate in this Advent. First, being modest. John certainly did not came from a royal palace who dressed in fine clothing and lived in luxury. Although he was the son of a Priest in the Temple, he chose to live as an ascetic. Power and luxury often become obstacles to welcome the Lord. The Advent period is the moment to prepare our heart, not the accessories. The Advent period is the moment for being modest and humble to be in solidarity with those who are suffering.

Second, John is not a “reed swayed by the wind”. He is not an unstable and pragmatic type of man, who just follows the flow of one’s will and other’s expectation. He is not a man without direction who just follows the wind of change and style. John teaches me and you to keep confident and have the principle: firmly reproach the untruth, not surrender to the pressure from the authority and mass.

(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:

The future of the youth: May every country resolve to determine and take the necessary steps to put ahead and guarantee the future of the youth, especially those who suffer and despair. We pray…

For Indonesian Churches intention:

Marriage Fidelity: May the fidelity to marriage pledge will not fade because of trivial matters in daily life which often trigger a dispute in the family. We pray…

Special Intention:

May the people in our Diocese welcome the wisdom of Holy Spirit to take an important role in building the wisdom of peace and perseverance in family in their home or in their place of service. We pray

Amen

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