18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples 19 and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 20 When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’” 21 Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. 23 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
A precise study:
One of the consistent aspirations of the Israelite spirituality is connected to a unique theological paradigm called, “Messianic Expectation”. It's an expectation and a strong faith in the powerful intervention of God in human society. They waited for God to redeem the “people of God” in history from all the awkwardness and chaos of life. Israel, with many of their historical experiences failing them, still did not realize a society reigning with peace and joy. The turns and shifts in ministerial offices, such as priests, kings and prophets too, became failures as models to encapsulate the fullness of life. They discovered that all human paradigms were failures, so they placed their complete hope in God. They expected God to come to redeem them from all the miseries of life.
An uncanny belief in human leadership and the intense heroic claims attached to it, blinded them to discover their responsibility to practice the call of God to/in them. In today’s text, I feel Jesus’ befitting reply, profoundly elucidates the quality of leadership in a given society rather than romanticizing a leader (himself).
The question, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” is a point-blank question without any solecism. Instead of answering it with a “yes” or “no”, the description about the quality of ministry, abounds in words, and explicates in redefining leadership as a quality of life instead of attaching it with a leader/individual. More than a leader, Jesus’ focused on the quality of leadership which brings change to the lives of the needy and poor. I feel that it is only those who are sick that need the medicine. Is it only those who are poor that need the money? Is it only those who are powerless that need power! that brings an equilibrium in an unjust and disappropriate world? So, to realize the abundance and adequacy for all is the call to leadership. It is not about an individual, or a team. It's all about a quality of life in its fullness. The contemporary political domains seem to give more importance to individual leaders and even in democracy the traits of power, display the contradictions between the charisma of a leader and the content in the quality of life in all subjects. For example, I feel that the world’s largest democracy, India is experiencing a dictator in the name of democracy. The minorities, Dalits and those who live in poor communities, live in a shadow of fear and bigotry. “Modi” has become a political ideology and discards the constitutional fundamentals which guarantee the quality of life to all. However, history stands tall to tell us that the radiant light of true liberation comes from God and not from any individual. Leadership means to serve and not to be served. Leadership under Christ communicates the gravity of true leadership, transforming the valleys to mountains, dry lands to orchids, sickness into health, war to peace, division to unity, monopolization to decentralization, unjust attitudes to just ones, unfaithful acts to faithful ones, exclusivity to inclusivity, suspicion to trust, jealousy to complementary attitudes and hate to love; it's all about change and a new life in God.
One of the important mechanisms to set the wheels of democracy moving is the careful operation of the dynamics of equilibrium, in simple words checks and balances. On the other hand, the failure of the system as mentioned by Reinhold Niebuhr, “its collective egoism.” The rule of the powerful and might negates the quality of life to all. The prism of social justice gets corrupted when all are not treated equally in the context of inequality and oppression. Thus, the preferential discrimination and reservation policies are the justified acts to reach the appropriate justice and equality. To be involved in the active mission of God, one has to recognize the predicaments in society and a strong analysis will engage our responses to address each one with hopes for transformation.
Thus, Jesus, by quoting the issues of the sick, poor and the needy and his compassionate action, elaborates our understating to enlarge our vision. It also engages our mission to bring the quality of God’s blessing in all domains, to heal and restore God’s plan for all. This strongly demands the powerful and dominant in the society to relinquish their rigid boundaries of life as well as to be humble before God to join the hands of Jesus in helping the underprivileged to discover themselves to create a new world order, of which Jesus dreamt. The primary demand of the church is to realize another world without pain and suffering, abounding with love.
The pathos of the people is one of the true sources to discover the agenda of God because God in Christ wants to restore life in its fullness to all. As partners of Christ, let us continue to listen to the painful voices to discern and restore life is the expectation from God. Jesus’ message to John confirms that we need to act locally to build the kingdom of God, to see the presence of the true messiah in the neighborhood community. It is not limited to one community, but it is granted free to all in Christ.
A community with equal access to life in body, soul and mind demands our faith praxis to be vibrant in bringing change. Let us continue to affirm that we are one with God in Christ and continue to carry His mission to realize the messianic fulfillment in our context with courage and dedication.
God bless these words. Amen