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December 15, 1995     The Message
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December 15, 1995

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1995 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana '  9 Commentary-- John the Baptist: The greatest man of woman born 1995, Third Sunday , Matthew Matthew begins with a refer- s imprisonment. We from a Source outside the was imprisoned ! Aatipas at a fortress the wilderness Sea. From there, us, John sent a dele- to ask Jesus who is to come" or looking for someone title, "the one who is to come" is a refer- Malachy 3:1, "...the messenger in whom you delight. Behold he is " The same Malachy goes on to describe a - as Elijah, who will be sent "before nd terrible day of the Lord comes." If historically correct, then John the Bap- L of Jesus as a returned Elijah. And he who thought of Jesus in this this from a sampling of public opin- 16:14. Jesus does not answer John's ques- his answer is clothed in a mix- to Isaiah that speak of the blind the lame walking again, the poor preached to them on a day when ould show his people that he is them. Christian interpretation those long ago words of Isaiah atthew niracles not promised in Jesus in the gospels, lepers and the dead are restored to life. / By FATHER | DON DILGER II For Matthew's Christian com- munity this was a summary of Jesus' ministry of preaching and healing. It was also an answer to John the Baptist's question. No, Jesus is not "the one who is to come," if that title refers to Elijah. Instead Jesus is more than Elijah. He is the ambassador of Yahweh who has been sent to console the poor and he is the presence of Yah- weh among his people. In him are fulfilled all those wonderful things that Isaiah spoke about so many centuries ago. Matthew's Jesus then pronounces a blessing on those who are not disappointed by this kind of a model of Yahweh's ambassador and of Yahweh's presence: "Blessed are those who are not caused to stumble because of me." We assume that John the Baptist is included in that blessing because of the praise of John that now follows. Jesus addresses the crowds and asks them what theywent out to the wilderness to see when they were drawn by the preaching and baptismal ministry of John the Baptist. Were they looking for a wishy-washy, fence-sitting, indecisive leader, a man dressed in the finery of wealth and power, a man living in a palace? No, what they did see was a prophet, one even greater than all the prophets that preceded him. The question that began this episode asked whether Jesus was the returned Elijah in the words of the prophet Malachy. The tables are turned. In a direct quote from Malachy, Jesus tells the crowds that it is John himself who is Elijah re- turned, and that no greater man has ever been bern of a woman. Matthew adds a strange caution: the most in- significant member of the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist. Strange indeed! But not when we put this statement into its historical context. We see in this whole story a reflection of the heated debate that was going on between follow- ers of Jesus and followers of John the Baptist over the role of their respective heroes: Who was Elijah? Who was Messiah? John or Jesus? The story also re- flects the ongoing debate between Jews (Christians) who believed Jesus to be Messiah and those who did not. For the followers of John the Baptist Matthew proclaims Jesus to be greater than John, that John is Elijah sent to prepare for Jesus. For those who denied Jesus' as Messiah Matthew proclaims the superiority of the new covenant over the old covenant. Therefore, "the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist." We now have the historical context of the story. Is there anything in this story that can feed us? Perhaps, if we examine the context into which Matthew puts this episode. It is a context of disap- pointment and rejection of Jesus, for this is how Matthew portrays it. John the Baptist, now in prison because of the role he had played in prepar- ing for Jesus, has doubts both about his role and the role of Jesus. The is the first disappointment. Sec- ondly, Matthew notes that some refer to Jesus as a drunk and glutton and to John the Baptist as pos- sessed by a demon. Thirdly, the cities in which Jesus had ministered rejected him and his message. How does Jesus respond? "I thank you, Lord, Father of heaven and earth .... "Who can follow such an example in the face of doubt, disappointment and rejection? Readings: Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10; James 5:7-10. STEAK HOUSE SEAFOOD CHICKEN LARGE PARTY ROOMS Haubstadt, Ind. I Main Street Pharmacy 217 E. Main St., Downtown Wshington Phone: 254-5141 //p A. RUDER rri-State Investors Since 1976 NS IRA'S MUTUAL FUNDS MONEY MARKET FUNDS 473-0225 D. Jones & Co.' s Pharmacy e Delivery Street dy Stratman 5"5293 acy on Specialists N. Welnbach Ave. Prop. Thomas A. Ruder M&S EFire & Safety quip. uo. inc. Over 25 years sales and service in the Tri-state 670 E. Franklin 424-3863 I Duncan's Pharmacy Riverside Bob and Norma Duncan Corner Riverside and Governor Evansville 422-9981 PAUL'S PHARMACY Paul Mayer, Owner 2345 W. Franklin St. 425-4364 Plaza Pharmacy Newburgh Plaza Shopping Center Fast Prescription Service Ken and Rebecca Hacker 853-7141 "Over 50 Semi Loads in Stock" i 36" coy. #1 white from $41.95 sq.& up (13 colors slightly higher) #2 metal ....... $26.95 to $37.95 sq. #3 metal ....... $18.95 to $29.95 sq. 5V and 1-1/2"galv. In Stock OVERHEAD DOORS Over 300 in Stock 9 x 7 Insulated ................. $239.81 TRUSS RAFTERS Any size up to 10ff span POST BUILDING PKGS Any Size -- Call for Free Quotes DAVIESS CO. METAL SALES Hwy. 50 E., Cannelburg. 4 mi. E. Montgomery 812-295-4229 I II All You Care To Eat Buffet Dining FAMILY STYLE DINING AND A-LA CARTE BANQUET ROOMS AVAILABLE '. ,,,,,..,. _ PRE-ARRANGED AMISH TOURS "000t00-3977 Make reservations now for Christmas dinners ' uUst off Hw . 50 MntgomYy,er IN and parties! Gift certificates available. Golden Jubilarians Basil "Butch" and Delores (Schitter) Kunkel of Jasper will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 10".30 a.m. Dec, 31 at St. Mary Church, Ireland. A dinner for invited guests will he held at St. Mary's Community Center. An Open House will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. The couple requests no gifts. They were married Dec. 27, 1945, at St. Mary Church, Iland, by Fa- ther Louis Becher. They are the parents of five children: Bonnie Luebbehusen, Judy Linette, Thomas Kunkel, Stan- ley Kunkel and Mark Kunkel, all of Jasper. They have 17 grandchildren. Mr. Kunkel is a retired Treasurer and Au- ditor of Dubois County. III H r HI I DUBOIS COUNTY BANK MEMBER OLD NATIONAL BANCORP ,M tuber } DK YOUR FIVE STAR SERVICE BANK I I I III n II ill