Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
A prophet is not someone who predicts the future, but one who is able to see the direction and outcomes of present lifestyle. This is why a prophet is rarely welcome since most people don’t want their present indulgences to be cramped by thoughts of consequences.
John the Baptist was a prophet and prophecy was a central element of Jesus ministry. Both Jesus and John were put to death by the masses who were unable to see that their own lives were on the fast-track to suffering and death.
Prophecy is an essential tool in the kit of anyone who seeks to live a future full of hope. The one who grasps at present pleasures without a thought of consequences will struggle with shame and hurt in the future.
When we read the gospels we hear and see what Jesus said and did, and we also read the consequences of his words and actions. Jesus’ preaching and miracles gave many people a pathway out of their despair into hope, and lead him through suffering and death to resurrection.
I find it very helpful to read my past experience as my personal scripture.
In the same way that Jesus speaks to us through the gospels, Jesus is speaking to us in our own lives, and especially when we reflect on our personal experience.
In this personal reflection we can see that some past decisions led us to hope and love, and other decisions took us down a path of shame and even despair. Such reflection helps us to discern decisions in the present and for the future. Used in this way our own experience can be our greatest teacher.
Note too in the reading that Jesus invites his hearers to go and talk to another (John) about what they see and hear. When we speak about our experience of Jesus we grow to appreciate the beauty and power of this experience. The process of articulating our experience helps us to sort our what works and what does not work for us.
Jesus invites us to look into our own lives for evidence of his presence and action. It takes a bit of detective work, but when we invite Jesus to lead this investigation we soon see that he has been present and active with us especially when we were only aware of confusion and loneliness. Of course there is wisdom in hindsight, but the real invitation is to accept that as Jesus has been with us in the past, so he is now in the present. As St. John Henry Newman prayed: “So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still Will lead me on…”
But note that when Jesus invites the people to examine the evidence he first invites his hearers not lo look within themselves, but to do the less-challenging work of recognising evidence of faith-at-work in the lives of others. Jesus asks ‘what do you see in the lives of the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead and the poor?’
While the heart of our work is to look within, it is a helpful start to look for evidence of the action of Jesus around us. This can be encouraging, but sometimes can leave us feeling a bit left out…
- Look for evidence of the presence and action of Jesus in the people you know (friends, family, work colleagues) and in people you hear about and read about.
- Now notice also your own feelings about what you witness in them. Are you aware of Jesus working this powerfully in your own life? If it is more difficult for you to see the presence and action of Jesus in your own life, turn to Jesus now with renewed awareness of what he is capable of and ask him passionately to work these miracles for you. Don’t be timid – ask directly and strongly. I guarantee Jesus will not miss any invitation or opportunity you give him.