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"The Gospel today gives us a moment in the suffering doubt of the Baptist. It is typical of many who could not and cannot understand what Jesus was up to. Why was it not possible to bring fire down from heaven and destroy the tyrants then? Why suffer the Hitlers and the Stalins of this world? Why the useless waste of human life? Of course the blind see, and the lame walk and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. This was revolutionary stuff; but it was not enough to explain Jesus. ‘Blessed are those who are not scandalised in me’, said Jesus (Mt 11:6). He did nothing to save himself from the powers who were threatened by his deportment and his preaching. He was ‘the man for others’. We are helped by the Baptist’s doubts and the reassurance from Our Lord. The Baptist had challenged the big powers, the aristocrats who exploited the poor, the king who feared that his popular influence would destabilise his authority, all those who refused or insincerely accepted reform and consequently change the social fabric of a self serving society. From early on Christians celebrated the Baptist as a saint. In some ways, our own times are more like Palestine was then than we might have suspected.

On Gaudete Sunday we see the best in all humanity at this time of the year: Doctors without Frontiers risking themselves for others, the sick made comfortable, soup kitchens available with a party spirit, the homeless welcomed, goodness applauded and honoured by all. Let us rejoice always in the Lord, so grateful for what we have received and what we may be able to give. Amen."

Father Richard Taylor

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