Herod imprisoned John the Baptizer; the voice of one crying in the wilderness is now an empty echo in a dungeon. Authority did what authority does both in state and in church: silences what threatens. It is as valid today as it was then. But, prison, in Herod’s time, was not the place where you waited for trial; it was the place where you waited for death. John the Baptizer was as good as dead.
What would Jesus do now in this defining moment? He had options – he could:
- Cool it. Back off and save his own life.
- Mount a verbal counter attack on Herod; that was mission impossible.
- Take up the calling and message of John – and continue to advance the Kingdom of God – come what may.
Jesus decides to pick up where John left off and eventually pays the same price as john.
Jesus’ response is immediate and swift: he moves directly from his quiet home in Nazareth to Capernaum on the travel route by the Sea of Galilee. This is the land of Herod Antipas, who had arrested John and would later judge Jesus. Jesus moved courageously taking up the torch of John’s message: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
We know that the word for “repentance” in Greek is metanoia – and it means “a change of mind / heart” to thinking outside the box of ego. This is the remedy for the “darkness,” the rut of meaningless human existence in which so many folks find themselves.
Jesus realizes he needs help to teach the lesson of love of God and neighbor; he recruits. He walks by the Sea of Galilee and sees two sets of brothers: Peter and Andrew and James and John. He says, come, follow me; I will make you fishers of people.
St. Francis de Sales comments on their calling, and also ours, to follow Our Savior:
When Our Savior tells His Apostles that He has chosen them, He makes no exception. Even Judas was called although he misused his freedom, and rejected the means God gave him. We can be sure that when God calls someone to embrace Christianity, to be single or married, to be a religious, priest or bishop, God gives each person all the necessary help to attain sanctity in his or her vocation.
Yet, even after their conversion, some of the Apostles were subject to some imperfections, like St. Peter who failed miserably by denying the Lord. Likewise, we see that it is impossible to overcome in a day all the bad habits acquired by caring poorly for our spiritual health. Nonetheless, Our Savior wants you to serve Him just as you are, both by prayer and by actions suited to your state and stage in life. Once you are convinced that you must serve God where you are, and go on doing what you are doing, have a tender affection for your state in life. Be of good heart; cultivate your vineyard with divine love.
As you set out on your daily tasks, place yourself in the hands of God, who desires to help you succeed in your affairs. Believe that God will do what is best for you, provided that, on your part, you employ a gentle diligence. Do not be surprised if the fruits of your labor are slow to appear. If you do the work of God patiently, your labor will not be in vain. Our Lord, who makes houses for the snails and turtles, will lead you well; let Him do it. We must walk faithfully in the way of our Lord, and remain in peace, as much in the winter of sterility as in the autumn of fruitfulness. Walk joyously, then, in your vocation with confidence in Divine Providence. (From the writings of St. Francis de Sales)
PN: Next Sunday, we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Blessing of Candles takes place before the Mass. All might bring candles with you to Mass that you can have them blessed for personal and family use.