In recent cancer treatment, genetic markers guide doctors in designing a custom treatment for each patient. When we travel, we look for signs and markers to lead us to our destination. In business, we look at markers to see how we are progressing toward our goals. If we “miss the mark,” we re-evaluate and adjust course in hopes of a better outcome.
As God’s people, we look for the markers of the Kingdom of God, breaking in to this world in this present moment. Reading and watching the news, we may feel there are precious few signs of God’s Kingdom today. (I struggle with that, so I’m limiting my news intake rather drastically.) But we are Christians, following Jesus, seeking the light piercing the world’s darkness. So we must look for the markers of the Kingdom, and celebrate them…shout them from the housetops.
Jesus’ time wasn’t any more peaceful or hopeful than our own. First century Palestine was under military occupation, onerous taxation was bankrupting the peasant class, and violence was the norm, not the exception. (Sound familiar?) Yet John the Baptist came announcing, “The Kingdom of God has come near!” How could he know that? Somehow, he knew that God was doing something new, and that new thing was Jesus, God’s Messiah. In today’s Gospel, John is in prison, and he sends word to Jesus asking for some encouragement. Jesus responds by listing the markers of the Kingdom:
Those are markers of the Kingdom – God’s will breaking in and overcoming human greed, sickness, blindness, and even death itself. Much as we bemoan the state of the world today, we are seeing these markers if we look: dramatic cures to disease, a huge reduction in world poverty, exploding knowledge and insight, extending healthy lifespans. We have a long way to go, but God’s Kingdom is clearly breaking in and transforming our world. We need to shout that from the housetops. JBM