St. John the Baptist’s question 2000 years ago is just as appropriate as today: Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
Re-reading John’s own words in scripture, the question makes sense. John is the last of the Old Testament prophets. John dresses like a prophet- he wears camel hair clothes. John eats like a prophet- he eats wild honey and locusts. John speaks like a prophet- convert-be baptized-or-die! Notice that Jesus does none of these. He does not dress oddly. He does not eat oddly. He does not preach oddly. Instead, in Jesus’ ministry: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. AND, he proclaims the kingdom of God in our midst. Who is this guy? Because we humans possess lots of preconceived notions- John (who is in prison for his preaching) sends his disciples to Jesus. They tell Jesus that John wants to know if he is truly the one sent by God as the Messiah-the Anointed one. In other words, John is asking- Jesus you do not look weird; you do not dress weird; you do not eat weird. Are you really the one for whom we waited?
In other words, Jesus- I am lonely. Are you the one to help me or do I look for someone else? Jesus- I am hurting deeply. Are you the one to help or do I look for someone else? Jesus- I have lots of physical problems right now. Are you the one who is going to help me or do I look for someone else to help me?
Now while this question is valid, we redeemed people forget that we need to cooperate with God. Created in God’s image and likeness, we are not robots. We are not puppets. We are God’s creatures imbued with God’s grace and God’s divinity. St. James puts it this way- Cooperating with God is like farming. We do half the work and then we step back and let God do his share.
To illustrate: Three days after Christmas several years ago, an evening blizzard hits the area of Clayton, New Mexico in the eastern part of the state. By morning, there is a whiteout, no one can see their way through the blizzard. Randy Glover is out in his workshop when he picks up on the short wave radio the voice of a stalled family of six on the highway. All the cars stop on the highway and people are trapped. Still in radio contact with the stranded family, the Glovers invite the family to their home. They radio directions even though they are only 200 yards from their home. However, Randy Glover’s work just begins. It hits him that there must be other stranded people on the highway. So, he puts on his ski goggles and leaves his warm home to find more people on the highway. In the end, The Glover family saves forty-four strangers in all. They ranged in age from 4 to 70. People help in the kitchen…people help with the serving…people help with the dishes. And, no one complains about the one bathroom! The Glover children think that that Christmas is the best-ever. Everyone laughs. They tell stories. They play dominoes and design T-shirts. Christine Glover sums up everything when she said, “The mood of the group was loving. We got to know each other. We met people who will be friends for life.”
Again, we can restate our prayer: Jesus, I need you right now. Are you the one to help me or am I to wait for another? If we do not act in the name of Jesus Christ then who will do the helping? If we do not ask for help in the name of Jesus Christ then do we really participate in our own salvation? Our job is to build the kingdom. Gaudete! (It means “Rejoice!) It does not matter if we live in a wheelchair or push a walker. Gaudete! It does not matter if we cannot move like we used to and we want to die. Gaudete! God will still work wonders in our lives if we want them. And these wonders will happen in the most unusual ways.
At this Eucharist today we sing, Gaudete! Rejoice! Jesus is here to save us. Jesus is the one we wait for. He wants to bring us home from the blizzard of our lives. Gaudete!
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.
Gaudete Sunday, 2016
N.B. When the Spirit moves, the written word differs from the spoken word.