Street art by Guido Van Helten (born 1986),
Spray paint on silos,
Executed in 2016
© Guido Van Helten
John the Baptist has sent us to you, to ask
John, summoning two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or must we wait for someone else?’ When the men reached Jesus they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to you, to ask, “Are you the one who is to come or have we to wait for someone else?”’ It was just then that he cured many people of diseases and afflictions and of evil spirits, and gave the gift of sight to many who were blind. Then he gave the messengers their answer, ‘Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the Good News is proclaimed to the poor and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’
Reflection on the Street Artwork
Our reading today takes place against the backdrop of St John the Baptist being in prison, having been put there by Herod Antipas. St John heard some news about what Jesus had been doing, prompting him to ask to Jesus, 'Are you the one who is to come, or must we wait for someone else?' This shows that even John etc baptists had questions, and not all the answers. Maybe John was expecting the Messiah to come with judgement, wrath and fire; so hearing that Jesus was healing people, caring for the poor, teaching people and even raising the dead, might have somewhat puzzled him. John didn't expect the unexpected!
That is probably why Jesus responds the way He did in our reading (''Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear….). Rather than give a straightforward 'yes' confirming he was the Messiah indeed, he gives John an answer to reflect upon. Sometimes Jesus' answers to our questions are not what we expect. Sometimes his answers don't even look like answers. In our own prayer life, we don't get straightforward answer, on the contrary, what we are being told can often 'disorientate' us... in order to 're-orientate' us to where God wants us to be. We can thus expect the unexpected too in our own prayer life.
In 2015 there was a downtown revitalisation project in Fort Smith, turning it into a world-class destination for urban and contemporary public art. The project was titled The Unexpected. Every year a new large-scale artwork is created in an unexpected setting (like our two massive figures painted on some factory mills) and gets added to the collection now of over 30 pieces… The inhabitants of Fort Smith have learnt to expect the unexpected, every year...
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