In today’s Gospel from St. Matthew, John the Baptist sends his disiples to Jesus to ask him “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?
You can almost hear the insecurity and wondering in John’s question. John has done everything asked of him by God. He has been true to his mission to testify to the light. He went all over preaching a message of repentance and baptizing people. And when Jesus appeared on the scene, he told his followers in no uncertain terms that Jesus is the one they should follow.
Yet now John is languishing in prison, perhaps knowing that he will die without ever leaving that wretched place. It would be understandable if John were sitting there wondering whether it had all been worth it. Whether he had backed the right horse, so to speak. Whether all he had done had been in vain.
While most of us are not thrown into prison for our preaching of the Gospel, I suspect we all have moments of doubt. Wondering if we are following the right path. Wondering whether our efforts are worth it. Wondering if they will bear fruit.
Jesus’ response was to tell John’s disciples to go and report to him what they have heard and seen – the blind regaining their sight, leapers cleansed, the deaf hearing, and the poor having the good news proclaimed to them. Doubtless there was still a lot of suffering in the land, but in the midst of the suffering, were the signs of Christ’s presence and the signs of who Christ was.
The same signs are there for us. True, we live in a world groaning with loss and suffering. But we also live in a world where, if we look around, we can see signs of God’s presence and we can see signs that our efforts to proclaim the Gospel are bearing fruit. The signs are there; we just need to look for them.