When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

Matthew 11:2–3

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Matthew 11:1–6

We can imagine John in prison looking at the works of Jesus and wondering – was it all worth it.


Jesus responds in the following two verses with a summary of his ministry: “the blind receive their sight (cf. Mt 9:27-31), the lame walk (cf. Mt 9:1-8), the lepers are cleansed (cf. Mt. 8:1-4), the deaf hear (maybe Mt. 4:23 & 9:35), the dead are raised (cf. Mt. 9:18-26), and the poor have good news brought to them  (cf. Mt. 5:3).”


Though not a straight yes or no, this response would have given John much to consider. It would be hard for anyone to deny that God was powerfully at work in Jesus. But there is a second, more profound layer in Jesus’ response to John.


Among the events foreseen are the dead coming to life (Isa 26:19), the blind and deaf seeing and hearing again (Isa 29:18; 35:5; 42:18), the lame leaping for joy (Isa 35:6), and the poor hearing the glad tidings of the Lord delivered by his anointed one (Isa 61:1).


John would have been familiar with these prophecies, and it would have been reassuring for him to understand that everything was proceeding according to God’s plan, as foretold in Scripture.


Jesus only had good words for the poor. What good news can we bring? And when things are not going to plan, can we intervene and help make things right again? Can we hear what he wants to say to us today?

Loving Father,
There are many in our world today who are poor, physically or spiritually. Help me to grow in love of you, and of those you care most for. We know we cannot wait anymore. You have no hands but ours Lord. Give me the strength to carry out your work to help the poor in this land. Help me to show them the love you have for them. Put a good word on my lips so that I might preach your Good News, not only with my words but with my actions too.

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Whilst working at the Institute, Matthew managed the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and was involved in the Spirituality work, completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and the Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and was also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa. He is currently the Director of Communications for the Jesuits in Southern Africa, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
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