The early Church continues its dialogue with the followers of the Baptist in today's story, again "slanting" the story to make it look like John asked Jesus who he was and Jesus replied by applying to himself one of the messianic prophecies of Isaiah. We may doubt that the actual conversation took place the way that is described, though there certainly was a tradition among the earliest Christians that Jesus applied to himself the words of that prophecy. From the very beginning Jesus people understood that a necessary consequence of their faith was service to those who suffered.
This understanding survives even today as the Pope made clear in his talks at the United Nations several years ago and as the American Bishops have often done when they excoriated those in our society who wish to blame the poor and the elderly and the immigrants not only for their own problems but also for the problems of the rest of the country. It is not our role to take positions on specific legislation or suggested public policy. But there is a meanness and an anger in American public life today which followers of Jesus cannot accept. Nor can we pretend that it is acceptable to our tradition that a situation continue in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The Gospel remains a stumbling block to those who believe that the way to be a success in the business world is by cutting the salaries of your workers or firing them.
Fr. Greeley's Last Book:
Once upon a time a group of young people (teen age boys if the truth be told) were playing basketball on the parish courts. An bald African American man, with a large diamond in his ear, strolled up and watched them. He looked kind of familiar but the boys knew it couldnít be. He asked if he might play. He was taller than any of them and they werenít sure. He promised he would not rebound. So they let him play.
He was pretty good. In fact he was truly excellent. Without even working up a sweat, he made three point jump shots, lay-ups, hooks, and even shots with his eyes closed. Either hand too. They had seen this style before, but they still didnít believe it was the one they thought it might be.
Then he spent about fifteen minutes give them tips which were really radical. Hadnít they seen this act in TV ads? But it would never happen in their parish, would it? Then he thanked them for letting him play and ambled away. They kind of wanted to follow him to see if he really drove a Chevy, because that would clinched it . But they didnít. They didnít tell anyone about what happened. Who would believe that MJ himself had come to their school yard and shot around with them.
Besides they didnít believe it was really him.
1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!
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