by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
We don't know for certain how the disciples of John the Baptist reacted when Herod Antipas jailed him in the fortress of Machaerus. We know Jesus' reaction. He didn't hide in the desert. Nor did He take refuge among His relatives in Nazareth. He began to travel to the villages of Galilee preaching an original and surprising message.
The evangelist Mark sums it up by saying He "went forth to Galilee proclaiming the Good News of God." Jesus doesn't repeat the preaching of John the Baptist, nor does He talk about His baptism in the Jordan. He proclaims God as something new and good. That is His message.
"This is the time of fulfillment." Israel's waiting period is over. The time of John the Baptist has also come to an end. With Jesus, a new era begins. God doesn't want to leave us alone with our problems, suffering, and challenges. He wants to build a more humane world with us.
"The Kingdom of God is near." With unknown boldness, Jesus surprises everyone by proclaiming something that no prophet had dared to declare: "God is now here, with His creative force for justice, trying to reign among us." Jesus experiences God as a good and friendly Presence who is seeking to open the way among us to make our lives more human.
Therefore, Jesus' whole life is a call to hope. There's an alternative. It isn't true that history must ramble along the ways of injustice that the powerful of the earth have traced for it. A more just and fraternal world is possible. We can modify the course of history.
"Convert." It's no longer possible to live as if nothing were happening. God asks collaboration from His sons and daughters. So Jesus cries out: "Change your way of thinking and acting." We ourselves must change first. God doesn't impose on anyone by force, but he is always drawing our consciences towards a more humane life.
"Believe in this Good News." Take it seriously. Wake up from indifference. Mobilize your energies. Believe that it is possible to make the world more humane. Believe in the liberating strength of the Gospel. Believe that change is possible. Introduce trust into the world.
What have we done with Jesus' captivating message? How could we have forgotten it? What have we substituted for it? What are we trifling with, if the first thing is to "seek the Kingdom of God and His justice"? How can we live in tranquility, seeing that God's creative plan for an earth filled with peace and justice is being annihilated by man?