December 14, 2022 –
St. John of the Cross
“In the Lord shall be the vindication and the glory of all the descendants of Israel.”
Confusion sometimes arises from the question that John the Baptist in today’s Gospel Reading instructs his disciples to ask Jesus. People wonder: “Doesn’t this question—‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’—suggest that John the Baptist wasn’t really familiar with his cousin Jesus, and was even uncertain about the role of Jesus in the Lord God’s plan for Israel?” The answer, of course, is “No.” But why then does John instruct his disciples to ask this question?
By way of answering, we might point out that John isn’t sending his disciples for his own sake, but for theirs. John wants each of them to encounter Jesus and hear Jesus’ answer to the question as a sort of initiation into a relationship with Jesus.
However, one might in response ask a further question. “Why, then, did Jesus answer the disciples’ question by saying, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard ….’?” The fact is that these disciples need for the time being to remain under the instruction of John the Baptist.
Jesus does not say to these disciples what He said to Peter and Andrew: “Come, follow me.” These disciples, like us during Advent, need to sit at the feet of John the Baptist and allow his message to sink more deeply into our hearts before we can be true disciples of the Lord Jesus.