Jesus confirms He is the Messiah to comfort the imprisoned St. John the Baptist. Every Catholic man can grow happiness by building the the Virtue of Faith by meditating upon Jesus’ powerful miracles and by growing in the Virtue of Charity by performing Works of Mercy every day.

Liturgy

3rd Week of Advent – Wednesday – Lk 7:18b-23

Commentary

After John the Baptist is imprisoned by King Herod for denouncing Herod’s adulterous and incestuous marriage, John’s disciples visit John to comfort and inform him of Jesus’ miraculous healings and preaching. Despite likely hearing about Jesus’ miraculous birth from his parents, baptizing Jesus in the Jordan and witnessing the manifestation of God the Father and the Holy Spirit at the baptism, and hearing of Jesus’ many miracles, the imprisoned John the Baptist seems strangely uncertain if Jesus is the Messiah. John sends his disciples to the Lord to ask if He, “is the one”, to alleviate any of John’s doubts.

John the Baptist’s doubts about Jesus may trace to several things. John preached about a tough Redeemer who demands repentance, and, in the Judgment, uses His winnowing fork to “gather the wheat” (saving the repentant), and “burn the chaff” (casting sinners into Hell); Jesus has definitively preached about the absolute necessity for repentance, but has preached about God’s mercy and miraculously healed apparent sinners; Jesus will zealously warn of the coming Judgment for those who fail to repent and believe (Lk 10:13-15, 11:37-52, 12:4-9, 13:1-5). Like many Jews, John may have expected a Messiah who would seek political power, but Jesus has been apolitical. John may also have been under extreme physical and mental torture while imprisoned, and perhaps, as he anticipates his own murder by Herod, John seeks confirmation that he has completed the mission God gave him to announce the Messiah. 

Compassionate, Jesus responds by healing many people while John the Baptist’s disciples look on, giving John’s disciples irrefutable evidence He has supernatural knowledge and powers. Jesus confirms His identity by cryptically referring to His performance of  the specific kinds of miraculous healings the prophet Isaiah predicted the Messiah would perform; Jesus avoids fully revealing His identity publicly for the present, while offering beautiful consolation He is indeed the Messiah to John the Baptist.  

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be impressed with how Jesus reassures the imprisoned John the Baptist: Divine Knowledge, Jesus has a complete understanding of all Scripture, which He, as a Divine Person of the Trinity, created and inspired prophets to write; Divine Power, Jesus effortlessly performs supernatural miracles, including choosing to perform miracles to provide evidence to John’s disciples; Jesus uses straightforward Logic (a part of Reason), proving that His miraculous acts exactly fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah; Divine Prudence, Jesus Shrewdly uses cryptic references to ancient Scripture to console John, while not directly revealing that He is the Messiah, avoiding premature confrontation with His enemies; Divine Charity, in responding to John, Jesus demonstrates Works of Mercy (Comfort the Sorrowful; Care for Prisoners). 

Meditate upon Jesus’ signs to grow in faith

Realize: Jesus reminded John the Baptist, the greatest of prophets, of His powerful signs to give John hope; today, even more, every Catholic man can be strengthened in faith and hope by meditating upon Jesus’ many signs. 

Believe: Reflect upon Jesus’ Signs of the Kingdom (CCC 547-550).

Pray: Jesus, Son of God, inspire me to grow in the Virtue of Faith as I meditate each day upon Your many miraculous signs found throughout Your Gospel.   

Perform Works of Mercy every day

Realize: John the Baptist’s disciples visit and comfort him during his imprisonment.  

Believe: Reflect upon the need to perform Corporal Works of Mercy (CCC 2447).

Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Charity, help me grow in the Virtue of Charity by leading and inspiring me to perform many Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy each day and guide me to discern if You are calling me to Catholic prison ministry.