How would you react if you heard that one of your cousins had been arrested? The gospel is silent about Jesus’ thoughts when his cousin John is jailed. But his actions are not silent. He moves from Nazareth to Capernaum and begins his public mission in earnest. It was twofold: to preach and to make whole.
He asked folks to repent, to make a spiritual about-face in their lives for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Those happy with the status quo did not buy the message, but there were many who did and they followed him at personal cost.
In the movie Oh, God the supermarket employee (John Denver) is asked by God (George Burns) to convey a certain unpalatable message to the world. It was a near impossible task. “Besides,” the employee tells God, “preaching your word is costing me my job.” To which God replied, “That’s not a bad trade, is it? Lose your job and save the world.” No, not a bad trade, but how many are willing to make it?
Jesus did. He traveled the countryside, curing every disease, healing lepers, lunatics and paralytics. He spoke truth to power and, like his cousin, paid the ultimate price. He preached and he made whole. He could say finally to his Father: Mission accomplished!
—Fr. Paul Faulstich, S.J. spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.