Even in the prison of Maqueronte, where he’s locked up by Antipas, news of Jesus reaches the Baptist. What he hears is disturbing. It doesn’t respond to his expectations. He awaits a Messiah who prevails with the terrible power of God’s judgment, saving those who welcomed his baptism, and condemning those who have rejected it. Who is Jesus?
To resolve his doubts, he charges two of his disciples to ask Jesus about his true identity: «Are you the one who is to come or are we to expect someone else?». The question was decisive in the first days of Christianity.
Jesus’ answer isn’t theoretical, but very concrete and precise: tell John «what you hear and see». They’re asking him about his identity, and Jesus answers them with his healing action serving the sick, the poor, and the unfortunate who he meets throughout the villages of Galilee, without resources or hope for a better life: «the blind see again, and the lame walk, those suffering from virulent skin-diseases are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life and the good news is proclaimed to the por».
In order to get to know Jesus, what’s best is to see who are around him and to what he is dedicated. In order to capture well his identity it’s not enough to confess theoretically that he is the Messiah, the Son of God. It’s necessary to focus on his way of being Messiah, that is nothing less than alleviating suffering, healing life and opening up a horizon of hope for the poor.
Jesus knows that his answer can disappoint those who dream of a powerful Messiah. That’s why he adds: «Blessed is anyone who does not find me a cause of falling». Let no one wait for another Messiah doing any other kinds of «works»; let no one invent another Christ more to our liking, since the Son has been sent to make life more dignified and happy for everyone, until reaching its fullness in the final celebration of the Father.
What Messiah do we Christians follow today? Do we dedicate ourselves to do «the works» that Jesus did? And if we don’t do them, what are we doing in the midst of our world? What do people «see and hear» in Jesus’ Church? What do they see in our lives? What do they hear in our words?
Jose Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf