Did you notice how much we've been hearing about John the Baptist these past two weeks? It continues today: John's messengers have carried out their mission, asking Jesus to clarify his place in God's plan: "Are you 'the coming One' or are we still waiting?" The messengers head back to Herod's prison with the answer Jesus gave them for John, and Jesus turns to the crowds.
You know those crowds. We still have them today. You and I may have been in such a crowd ourselves: the people who hear of an exotic religious phenomenon, and go to see for ourselves what all the fuss is about. Reported apparition? Dynamic preacher? Healing ministry? Living saint? Think of the crowds that gathered wherever Bl. Teresa of Calcutta was expected to be. Those are the people Jesus was talking to when the messengers came and went. So he turned his attention back to them. And he talked about their desires and expectations. "What did you go out to the desert to see?"
Just like we do today, they had gone far out of their way to see someone unusual, someone charismatic. Not, Jesus says, "a reed swaying in the winds" of the culture or someone fabulously outfitted. They went out to the desert to see a prophet. "And more than a prophet," Jesus added.
More than a prophet.
If Jesus says that about John, what is he saying about himself?
What is he saying about us, today, if "the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than" John?