What should I do?

Dec 16th Sunday Readings.

Three groups of people ask John the Baptist the same question in this week’s gospel, gianna-trewavas-740067-unsplash“What should we do?” The gospel doesn’t tell us if they listened to what he said or liked his answer or if they went and did what he directed. 

What we do know is that after he answered, the gospel says people were filled with expectation and wondered if John might be the chosen one of God. John’s teaching was so radical and life changing that they wondered if John could be Christ.
John’s response is beautiful and powerful. He says that while he purifies with water, the Messiah will purify with fire and the spirit. In other words, the work of Christ will bring about even greater transformation, even more complete purification. 

One way to think about this gospel. This gospel is a formula for how to repent and believe in the good news. 

Step 1: Ask “What should I do?” Be direct. Ask the big question. Expect a response.

Step 2: Listen. Actually wait for a response. God works in mysterious ways and on His own timeline. Ask and and keep listening.

Step 3: Look for the messiah who will cleanse you with fire and the Spirit. Receive the Sacraments. Go to confession. Let the love of God burn up the rough, tough, and gross parts of your life and behavior.

Step 4: Preach the good news. Share what you’ve been given. Every gift of God is good enough to be shared in some way.

LIVE IT: Take some time for an honest and earnest prayer only asking one thing, “God, what do you want me to do?”

Can I ask you a question?

The Good Word for Oct. 18th ~ for complete Sunday readings click here.Pope Francis

A friend of mine posted on social media that a relative of his took his baby to see Pope Francis in New York. Miraculously, while they stood along the parade route, Pope Francis stopped the pope-mobile and the motioned to bring the baby to him. The Secret Service carried the baby to the Pope who kissed and blessed the child before returning the baby to the mystified parents. Can you imagine? How cool, right?

Encountering someone of power and humility like Pope Francis has got to be a momentous experience. Imagine this: Pope Francis not only kisses your baby, but then turns to you and says, “What do you wish me to do for you?” You could ask Pope Francis anything. What would you ask?

In the gospel, Jesus’ disciples, James and John, men he choose to follow him and found the church, said that they want him to put them into positions of power when he finally overthrows the government and is in charge. They believe that Jesus is a political revolutionary and that if they ask him, he will give them great power in the new Israel. They want to sit on the right and the left of Jesus’ throne.

The issue with their request is that Jesus’ throne is the cross.

James and John thought they were asking for worldly power and fame, but in fact they were asking for something totally different. They didn’t realize it, but they were asking to serve as Jesus serves and to die as Jesus dies. When they said they could drink from the same cup, they were committing to a life and a death of service for others.

I don’t judge them too harshly because I’m not sure how I would answer if Jesus turned to me and asked what I want him to do for me.

What would you ask for from Jesus if you could ask for anything? What would you ask him to do for you?

Every other time Jesus asks this same question in the gospels, he is asking it of someone who needs healing of their blindness. In both the other cases, the individuals are instantaneously healed and immediately follow Jesus.

I wonder if Jesus was hoping for James and John to ask for healing of their blind ambition. At any rate, Jesus uses this opportunity to teach the disciples that antidote for ambition is humility. He teaches that in order to lead, they must serve. In order to give life, they must die.

What is your answer? What would you ask Jesus for?

Live It:
Answer God this week. Close your eyes, and answer Jesus’ question, “What do you wish me to do for you?”