Jesus reveals the astounding greatness of John the Baptist. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Virtue of Faith so he can more deeply mediate upon the many signs of Jesus and grow in faith and by pursuing the Virtue of Charity so he can perform heroic Works of Mercy every day.
3rd Week of Advent – Thursday – Lk 7:24-30
After John the Baptist has been imprisoned by Herod for zealously condemning Herod’s adulterous and incestuous marriage, John sends his disciples to Jesus to reconfirm He is the Messiah, perhaps, to provide John assurance that he has completed the mission God gave him to announce the Messiah. Jesus generously responds to John’s disciples, and in an act of beautiful consolation for John, immediately demonstrates supernatural healing miracles and cryptically confirms that the miracles are exactly what Isaiah predicted the Messiah would perform; by using these cryptic references, Jesus avoids fully revealing His identity publicly for the present.
After John’s disciples depart, Jesus now reveals John’s identity to the crowd by describing what John is not. Rather than a cowardly double-talker (a reed by the nearby River Jordan that sways with every breeze), Jesus’ rhetorical question reveals that John was just the opposite, a courageous truth-teller. Rather than a soothsayer who makes money advising kings and lives a soft and pampered life (soft robes in king’s houses), Jesus’ rhetorical question reveals that John was beholding to no man, and lived an austere life of repentance in the rugged wilderness.
Defying common understanding, Jesus confirms John the Baptist is more than a prophet. Using Scripture (Mal 3:1), Jesus reveals that John is the long-awaited one who would prepare the way for the Messiah; Jesus is also making a veiled proclamation that He is the Messiah. Jesus affirms that none of the men of the Old Testament surpasses John the Baptist; this is stunning, for this puts John in the same category as the patriarchs and major prophets (Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Elijah). John’s greatness is because he is honored to announce Jesus Christ and to be among the first to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (John will be murdered by Herod shortly). The crowds who have been baptized by John rejoice while the Pharisees and lawyers reject God’s compassionate outreach through the Baptist.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Be awed by the implications of Jesus’ proclamation about John the Baptist’s greatness: Son of God, with God the Father from the beginning, Jesus has first-hand experience of Heaven; Divine Knowledge, knowing things that are unknowable to men, Jesus knows the hierarchy of Heaven and where each soul is positioned; Divine Prophet, Jesus inspires ancient prophets to predict the coming of John the Baptist, and definitively confirms John fulfills ancient Scripture.
Pursue your sacred duty to grow in Virtue
Realize: It is stunning to hear Jesus’ praise for John the Baptist, as He reveals that no man born of woman is greater than John; nowhere else in the Gospels does Jesus speak so highly of a man.
Believe: Reflect upon the heroic virtues of John the Baptist (CCC 486, 523, 535, 608, 678, 696, 717-720, 1223).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Virtue, help me build the Virtue of Duty/Responsibility (a part of Justice) so I recognize my sacred duty to become holy and always strive to grow in virtue.
Seek the Spirit to heroically defend the Faith
Realize: Unlike John the Baptist, many Catholic men lack righteous anger about the increasing perversion in society, and are afraid to publicly condemn grave sins and defend the truth of the Catholic faith.
Believe: Reflect upon your obligation to Defend the Faith (CCC 1285, 1303).
Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Counsel so I am prepared by You to defend the faith, I am guided to know when to publicly confront sin, and I properly use righteous anger to most effectively proclaim the Truth of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church.