Just imagine John the Baptist as a young man receiving a call from God to go out into the desert. In the desert, he experiences temptations but also encounters the true God. In the harsh conditions of drought and heat, his heart becomes tender and responsive to God’s will. After a period of time, John begins his public ministry of preaching the coming of the Messiah. John knew the Messiah would come but he had no idea when he would arrive. In the meantime, great crowds flocked to hear his words and many people changed their lives. John also gathered many disciples who were loyal to his words and assisted him in his ministry.
Then one day Jesus came on the scene. It was an exciting day for John the Baptist because everything he hoped for was fulfilled. His job was over, he prepared the way for the Messiah. After baptizing Jesus, John sent some of his own disciples to follow Jesus. It was time for Jesus to increase while his own role was quickly coming to an end. John remained faithful and continued to preach repentance while condemning sinfulness. Finally, his condemning Herod’s sinfulness caught up with him and he was arrested.
Perhaps it was in prison that John the Baptist had second thoughts. Here was a man who could inspire great crowds but now he sat alone in a cell. He remained faithful to God’s plan but now he was suffering and would soon be executed. In prison, John experienced doubts. He knew he saw Jesus but now questioned if he really was the Messiah. The darkness in John’s life kept him from recognizing Jesus Christ as the Messiah so John sends someone to ask Jesus if he really was the person he thought he was.
Each of us are like John the Baptist because sometimes we are so sure of our faith and believe while other times we need reassurance. John the Baptist waited patiently for the coming of Jesus Christ. We are called to have that same patience in the midst of our difficulties. As I often tell people in the confessional, “I don’t pray for patience because God will find ways to try me.” Patience is not something most of us are good at and even John the Baptist had his moments when he says, “Should we look for another?” He waited for years for Jesus to come, but since Jesus did not meet his expectations, John began to lose his patience.
May this Eucharist strengthen us on our Advent journey. Like John, we may remain faithful until the end.