The Baptist we find in today’s Gospel reading is a far cry from the confident, fiery, if eccentric, figure who we heard proclaiming the coming of the Messiah last week. Alone and afraid in Herod’s prison, John reaches out to his cousin, Jesus, through messengers, seeking reassurance that he was not wrong, Jesus is indeed the Messiah promised of old. Jesus responds in His typically compassionate manner, neither brushing aside John’s doubts or ignoring his need for comfort.
He directs John to the evidence of his followers’ experience. Jesus has indeed fulfilled the promise we hear in Isaiah, opening the eyes of the blind and clearing the ears of the deaf. The Scripture does not share John’s response to Jesus’ reply, but I imagine it was like a warm embrace, reminding him that God’s promise is true, and that all he foretold is coming to pass.
Doubt is a part of faith. It can be painful, causing us to turn away from our faith, to hide from our concerns. We question God, and we question ourselves, imperfect reflections of our perfect Creator. We fear what our doubts mean for our relationship with God. But God does not fear our doubt. If we engage with our doubts and fears, as the Baptist did in sending his followers to question Jesus, we will find our God ready to reassure, console and comfort us.
God is acting in our world at this very moment, just as Jesus did in His earthly ministry. We have the evidence of our eyes and ears, our own lived experience, of God’s love, mercy, and presence. Throughout our lives of faith, we may need reminders, as John did. This is not a failure on our part, it is a natural part of our journey with God. Our doubt becomes a problem only when we allow it to drive us away from relationship with God, depriving God of the opportunity to heal our wounded and questioning hearts.
Please take a moment to read our Carmel Mission Weekly Bulletin.