When the messengers of John had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. “What did you go out to the desert to see—a reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom scripture says: ‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.)
If there is one thing we can all do without discrimination, it is our faithfulness to the love of God. It is in this love that conversion and reconciliation are founded. Once this love is recognised, man can easily go through even the mountains. If one has not known this love, even if God would appear before us, we can never recognise Him. "What did you go to see in the desert?"
Unfortunately, we are like those Pharisees and doctors of the Law, not wanting to move from our places of safety and waiting for God to move to us, according our expectations and standards. We are always looking for the visible, palpable signs that can help us to believe. Jesus invites us to discover this faith that we have already received at our baptism, and to live it fully, through our concrete commitments, which are best expressed in our acts of love and mercy. For Jesus' contemporaries, John the Baptist was this sign, the messenger of God. For you and for me, what are those signs that we can identify or spot, as messengers of God, that we ignore in our daily lives?
Action of the day: Love God and love your neighbours
“What did you go out to the desert to see?”
Fr. Carles ELÍAS i Cao
Today, three times Jesus Christ asks us: “What did you go out to the desert to see? Then what did you go out to see?; Then what did you go out to see?” (Lk 7:24.25.26).
Today, Jesus seems to want us to get rid of that eagerness of ours for a futile curiosity, of the arrogance the Pharisees and Masters of the Law showed by looking down upon God's plans for them by ignoring John's call (cf. Lk 7:30). We realize that only our “knowledge of God” will not save us; we must know Him, love Him and follow Him; we need a response from deep inside us, sincere, humble and grateful.
“All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God;” (Lk 7:29): now comes the time for salvation. As St. John Crysostom preached, now is not the time to be examined, but the time of forgiving. Now and today is the right time; God is coming near and nearer each time, because He is good, He is just and He knows us well, and therefore He is full of a love that forgives; because, every evening He waits for us, returning home, to embrace us.
And He offers us the gift of his forgiveness and his presence; He breaks whatever distance between us; He knocks at our door. Humble, patient, now He knocks at your heart: in your desert, in your loneliness, in your failings, in your incapacity, He wants you to see his loving.
We must leave behind our comfort and luxury and face reality as it is: disturbed by consumerism and selfishness we have forgotten what God is expecting from us. He wants our love; He wants us for Him; He wants us truly poor and simple, to be able to give us the news that, despite everything, we are still awaiting: —I am with you, do not be afraid, trust me.
Looking inside us, we may now say in a quiet voice: —O Lord, you know me and accept me as I am; open my heart to your presence; I wish to accept your love, I wish to welcome you, now that you are coming in silence and peace.