Author: Brittany Fiscus-van Rossum
Reflection: v. 10, ‘And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”
You have to admire the crowds listening to John. He literally calls them a bunch of snakes and (at least some of them) stick around to ask him how they can change their ways. At least some of the people gathered there accept John’s critique and want to do better. I find this desire for a change of heart impressive. My personal experience with good church-people is that we can be as defensive as they come when asked to change. We are happy to read our pre-written liturgically appropriate prayers for forgiveness. We’re comfortable with taking a quiet moment each Sunday to silently (and metaphorically) self-flagellate for some personal sins before we remind ourselves that Jesus forgives us and then blessedly move on. But what about when we are tasked with taking a cold hard look at the ways we neglect the poor, judge our neighbors, and cling to our racist and classist pasts? What about when we are asked to admit the tangible ways we could change or do better on personal and communal levels? In my experience we Christians tend to throw up our best defenses and hide behind our very best ideals that seldom lead to practical justice-making. We refuse to do anything that would actually change or transform us. When faced with critique we refuse to ask the question, ‘what then should we do?’ because we’re afraid of the answers. So kudos to the crowd that stayed and listened to John rant and did not decide that he could not be talking about them. Kudos to those bold and vulnerable enough to ask John what do to and receive the answers. Kudos to the ones who followed through. Beloved church-people, fellow followers of Jesus, maybe we too should be asking this question. Instead of defending ourselves, maybe we should be asking how we too can be transformed by the gospel in tangible ways that bring justice and equality.
Prayer Transform us, O God of justice, show us what we should do.