Having sent the 12 disciples out to preach and heal, Christ is approached by the disciples of the imprisoned John the Baptist who have been sent to reconfirm Christ’s identity; John is imprisoned by King Herod for denouncing Herod’s adulterous “marriage”.  Christ confirms He is performing the specific kinds of miraculous healing the prophet Isaiah predicted the Messiah would perform. In this, Christ unequivocally confirms He is the Messiah and gives consolation to the imprisoned John the Baptist.

Christ now reveals John’s identity to the crowd by describing what John is not. Rather than a cowardly double talker (a reed by the River Jordan that sways with every breeze), Christ’s rhetorical question reveals that John was courageous truth-teller. Rather than a soothsayer who makes money advising kings (soft robes in king’s houses), Christ’s question reveals that John was beholding to no man and lived an austere life of repentance in the harsh wilderness.

Defying common understanding, Christ confirms John the Baptist is more than a prophet. Using Scripture (Mal 3:1), Christ reveals that John is the long-awaited one who would prepare the way for the Messiah; of course, Christ is also making a veiled proclamation that He is the Messiah. Christ affirms that none of the men of Old Testament surpasses John the Baptist; this is stunning, for this puts John in the same category as the patriarchs and major prophets (Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Elijah). John’s greatness is because he is honored to announce Christ and to be among the first to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (John will be murdered by Herod shortly).

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of Man, Christ compassionately reassures the imprisoned John the Baptist that He is indeed the Messiah. Son of God, Christ has a sweeping view of all Salvation History, knowing the impact and relative importance of all the prophets; He confirms the Kingdom of Heaven.  Divine Prophet, Christ reveals that Old Testament prophecies are being fulfilled through John the Baptist and His Incarnation. The Messiah, Christ confirms that He is the one long revealed in Scripture.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Scripture, properly translated, is a mysterious combination of truth, mercy, beauty and goodness. Marvel that Christ is the Divine Author who quotes the beautiful poetic truth He inspired throughout all Scripture.

2) At the core of the crisis of civilization is the crisis of manly virtue (from the Latin vir, meaning man). During Advent, pray for Christ to help you grow in the manly virtues of St. John the Baptist; courage, unshakable in truth, sacrifice, austerity, repentance, etc.

3) Even John the Baptist who Christ proclaims is the greatest man (none greater) is the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.  During Advent, confront your own sinfulness and pray for Christ to help you to grow in humility in the coming year.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity

Virtue of the Day – Charity

Corporal Work of Mercy – To feed the hungry

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To admonish the sinner