Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What did you go out to see?

Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 11:2-15 - At that time, when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me." As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way before you.' Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been coming violently and men of violence take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Today the Church commemorates the First and Second Finding of the Head of John the Baptist. Before I share my thoughts on today’s Gospel lesson, allow me to share a true story about a non-Orthodox friend of mine and his reaction to tomorrow’s feast. We had just finished college and he had agreed to help me with my youth ministry. While trying to get some things on my schedule he noticed the date on my planner read, “First and Second Finding of the Head of John the Baptist” at which point he said, “Boy, you Greeks will celebrate anything!” I still laugh every year on this day, and it’s been more than twenty years since he said that. Now on to today’s thoughts...

Jesus asks the crowd, “Who did you go out to see?” trying to help them understand the character of Saint John the Baptist. Ultimately we must understand John Baptist as the one “among those born of women there has risen no one greater.” What is it that makes him the greatest? Everything he did and stood for was to prepare the way Christ. He pointed everyone to Christ. He told everyone to be ready for Christ. Even from prison he sent his disciples to learn from Christ. We could learn a great lesson from John the Baptist....are you doing, saying, everything for Christ? Why not start now?

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