John the Baptist is naturally despondent in today’s Gospel reading. He’s in prison and unable to pursue his vocation of prophet, reminding people that being God’s chosen nation means living as if they really believed it, calling them to repent and offering them the dramatic sign of baptism – full immersion, not just a sprinkling! But now John needs reassurance and turns to the one man who can provide it.
Look what’s happening, replies Jesus. People are being helped and healed, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
Today the Good News still has to be proclaimed to the poor, and we still need to hear the call to repentance, to take a new direction. Baptised we may have been, but we still need healing. Ponder this extract from an article about the Church in South Sudan, a Church scarred by decades of war and hunger. Fr Michael Heap MAfr goes on to challenge his British readers:
All of us need to be reminded from time to time that our Baptism, our taking on the name “Christian”, means much more than just living like everyone else, apart from some prayers and Sunday Mass. We have taken on a new direction in life. We don’t go looking for suffering and rejection, but if it comes because of our commitment to Jesus Christ, we accept it without fear. This is so in South Sudan. It is so in UK. It is true in each of our lives. To live as baptised followers of Jesus means changing our outlook on everything, no matter how small.
From: Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) Magazine, August 2022 p3.