This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
29 million SLAVES in the world today
New English Translation (NET)
11 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their towns.
Jesus and John the Baptist
2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds Christ had done, he sent his disciples to ask a question: 3 “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go tell John what you hear and see: 5 The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them. 6 Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
If the gospels record accurately the preaching of John that the one who is coming after him will be “mightier” than him, we can easily understand JOhn’s hesitation as to whether Jesus is the one he meant. The teacher and healer who spent much of his ministry in a rural backwater, arousing the opposition of influential people didn’t look much like a Messiah who would establish God’s rule in Israel, and through Israel, among the nations. Jesus’ calm reply asks John to check his bible. All the activities mentioned by Jesus can be found in Isaiah 26:19; 29:18; 35: 5; 61: 1-in which the prophet describes God’s justice and the mission of his servant. There is no mention of ferocious judgment on sinners or triumph over other nations. Nor is there anything that smells of piety. The activities are simple matters of practical goodness plus the announcement of God’s favour amongst the needy. For that reason they may cause offense to those who are materially or religiously rich. People who think they have a right to to high end incomes or to respect for their fervent piety will find Jesus offensive, because he offers no scope for self-interest or self-righteousness.
“Good grief, Ananias, how can anyone make decent religion from a few banal miracles, some rustic parables and the support of fishermen and females? It’s laughable!” One can imagine the suave dismissal.
God’s love is profound but it is never complicated; it is expressed in ordinary kindness, care, justice, healing and words that the poor can understand. Those who want to hold on to their material or religious riches will always be offended by it. Those who are poor in health, wealth or righteousness will always welcome it with joy.