Gospel Mt 11:2-11

‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see?

Why was it that so many were drawn, first to John, and then to Jesus. These figures, enigmatic in their appearance and in their words drew tremendous crowds.

They spoke words that were often harsh and challenging and they were, in the end at least, unsuccessful – at least in worldly terms – in their ministries. Both met rather ignominious ends.

When Jesus poses this question, he tries to lead his listeners to an answer – John was much more than a pleasant novelty.

What John proposed was, in fact, something that corresponded to the desires to the human heart.

While his message was hard: we are all sinners and need to repent. What he provided though was the hope of forgiveness. His preaching pricked the consciences of the people (including Herod, who eventually was to order his execution), but did not leave the people in the despair that often accompanies such a profound awareness of one’s sinfulness. Instead, the Baptist pointed the way to a repentance that was truly life-giving. He smoothed the way for the one who was to come, the incarnation of mercy itself.

How do we react when the awareness of our own sinfulness hits us, when our consciences are pricked? Are we prepared to acknowledge our wrongdoing, and seek the grace to repent and repair broken relationships?

The words preached by John the Baptist find a resonance within us – they correspond to the inner desire of our hearts. They awaken us to the reality of our need, our sinfulness. And they call us forward, out of our sinfulness toward a place where we can open ourselves for the coming of the Incarnate God, to encounter Him who gives us life.

Point to Ponder

‘No act of our conscious life is true if it does not start out from the awareness that we are sinners.’

– Fr Julián Carrón: Exercises of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, Rimini 2016.