We don’t know with any certainty how the Baptist’s disciples reacted when Herod Antipas imprisoned him in the fortress of Maqueronte. We do know Jesus’ reaction. He didn’t stay in the desert. Nor did he seek refuge among his family in Nazareth. He began to travel around the villages of Galilee preaching an original and surprising message.
The evangelist Mark sums it up, saying that «he went into Galilee; there he proclaimed the gospel from God». Jesus doesn’t repeat the preaching of the Baptist nor does he speak of his baptism in the Jordan. He announces God as something new and good. This is his message:
«The time is fulfilled»
The time of waiting that Israel has been going through has ended. Likewise the time of the Baptist has ended. With Jesus begins a new era. God doesn’t want to leave us alone with our problems, sufferings and challenges. God wants to build a more human world with us.
«The kingdom of God is close at hand»
With an unfamiliar audacity, Jesus surprises everyone when he announces something that no prophet had ever dared to declare: «Now God is here, with the creative power of justice, trying to reign among us». Jesus experiences God as a good and loving Presence that is seeking to open a path among us in order to humanize our life.
That’s why Jesus’ whole life is a call to hope. An alternative exists. It’s not true that history has to wander through the paths of injustice that the powerful people of the earth lay out for it. A more just and fraternal world is possible. We can change the trajectory of history.
It’s no longer possible to live as if nothing ever happens. God asks God’s children to collaborate. That’s why Jesus cries out: «Change your way of thinking and acting». We are the people who should be the first ones to change. God doesn’t impose anything by force, but God is always attracting our consciences toward a more human life.
«Believe the gospel»
Take it seriously. Wake up out of your indifference. Mobilize your energies. Believe that it’s possible to humanize the world. Believe in the liberating power of the Gospel. Believe that transformation is possible. Introduce trust into the world.
What have we made of Jesus’ passionate message? How could we have forgotten it? What have we substituted for it? What’s keeping us busy if what’s most important is «seeking God’s reign and God’s justice»? How can we live tranquil, while observing that God’s creative project of a world full of peace and justice is being annihilated by people?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf