All of us go through moments, sometimes days, months or even years experiencing the absence of God in life. For over 37 years St. Theresa of Calcutta went through such experience. Good many of these through their life and witnessing proclaim the glory of God and his presence in the world and among us. These days the bombardments about the absence or even nonexistence of God seem to be going loud and getting currency. Those who continue to believe are ridiculed and excluded and intimidated. Positive actions are on to banish God from the public space. Christ is being
banished from Christmas!
In today’s gospel John the Baptist too is going through the experience of the eclipse of God. He only baptized Jesus, it was he who pointed out to his own disciples this Jesus as the Lamb of God. Those disciples of John went after Jesus and reported back to the Baptist amazing stories about him. However, toward the end of his solitary confinement in prison, the Baptist himself is in the dark. He doesn’t experience the light of God. He is really in doubt if he did enough to fulfil his life’s mission, to be the herald of the Messiah, if at all did he ever meet the Messiah!
In fact, Jesus himself lost track of God, his Father and cried out from the cross, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” Just like any other Jew living in his time John the Baptist also might have had dreams about the Messiah, the king who was to liberate Israel, the king coming in splendor and power and conquering the enemies of the people and re-establishing their glorious kingdom. He gets a report, just as predicted by Isaiah, “…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…” (Matthew 11:5; Isaiah 35:5-6). Did the Baptist get the answer he was looking for? No proof that he did.
Very often we too are likely not to get the answer as we want. However, Jesus has a testimony, “Among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist”. Jesus has also something to console us, “yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.” How about joining these ‘Least’ ones? James today has a piece of advice to us, “Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord”! (James 5:7). It could be really a long wait!