We are Followers of Jesus, not of the Baptist…

On the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, we return to Matthew’s Gospel. The text tells us about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Mt 4:12-23). Jesus only begins his ministry after the Baptist has been arrested. During Advent, we already reflected about the difference between the baptism and the respective messages of John and Jesus: water vs. Holy Spirit; repentance vs. mission. So often, as individuals and as Church, we seem to emphasize more sin and repentance instead of embracing the mission to which we are called by baptism. We seem to be more followers of the Baptist than disciples of the Christ.

Jesus begins his ministry by “saying”, “healing”, and “recruiting”. He says that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”; he cures every disease and illness among the people; and he realizes early on that the task at hand requires a group of faithful (albeit stubborn!) disciples. We, too, are called to proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand — meaning: the rule of God is to happen here and now. We, too, are called to heal the many diseases of the people. We, too, are called to call others to the amazing adventure of becoming followers of the Christ.

I read a book written by a pastor who takes his homilies very seriously. He contends that in any homily, the preacher should give the congregation “something to do”. Thinking about this gospel, and the message of “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”, perhaps I could invite the congregation to do something for somebody during the week that may make that person realize that, actually, the Kingdom of Heaven is indeed at hand. I had a priest friend that would always give a 25% tip at restaurants, and when asked why, he would just say, “Because I have to make sure the waitress knows that the Kingdom is at hand”. Even with our small congregation of 500, can you imagine how much good can be done if we would all commit to doing that next week? A small, but powerful way to set this text in real motion. Tell me what you think…

4 thoughts on “We are Followers of Jesus, not of the Baptist…

  1. I have to admit, every time “repentance and mission” comes up, I think- “we’re talking about this again?” However, a verse from last Sunday’s Gospel has been sticking with me, and it has everything to do with repentance and mission. So I stand corrected, and I’m glad the idea has been focused on. It’s always possible to take away something different, even when we don’t expect to.

      • (John 1:31) My focus was on “…he might be made known to Israel.” I never noticed them, but these words ended up explaining the original ideas more in depth. The baptism of repentance was to prepare ourselves and the “way” (time or place?) for the Messiah. This is because it is the point which we dedicate ourselves to God by turning away from sin. It was then dedication to mission, too…Again, nothing new, but something just made more sense after looking at it again. And of course, I’m not an expert.

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