We are familiar with the story of John the Baptist as the herald of the coming Messiah – it is the story that introduces and highlights the Advent season. But Advent’s proclamation of Christmas is not the end of John’s story. He remained a man faithful to God’s calling.
After Jesus began his public ministry and the spotlight refocused, John continued baptizing and calling people to repentance. He continued calling people to remember they were a covenant people. He challenged kings, even if it meant being imprisoned and being killed.
So, it should not be a surprise when John is sitting in prison, he knows his time is nearing the end, that he sends his disciple to meet with Jesus: When the men came to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’” (Luke 7:20)
It is easy to think that John was having doubts and wanted some assurance as he sat in prison awaiting Salome’s dance and his fate. But I would offer that he wanted his disciples to go to Jesus, to ask Jesus “the” question – not for John, but for themselves! And so they do. And now it’s up to them.
Jesus tells them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard” (Luke 7:22) – so that John knows that you now know and that you will go and tell the world – starting with John.
What about us? We have come this morning to Mass. We have heard the Good News. In the Eucharist, we come to Jesus in the most amazing way.
And at the end of the celebration, the final words are Ite missa est. The word “ite” is in the imperative, the command voice, ordering us to “go.” The word “missa” – easy to think it means “Mass” but it means “mission.” The meaning: “Go, you are sent on mission.” Mission to tell what you have seen and heard.
You are a disciple, a soldier in Jesus’ evangelizing army. You’re not in the Secret Service. Go and tell family, friends, and neighbors what you have seen and heard.
We are baptized to be like John: a person faithful to God’s calling. Even to the end of our days.