John 1: 19-28
This is the testimony of
John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites
to him to ask him, "Who are you?" He
admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, "I
am not the Christ." So they asked him, "What are
you then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "I
am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No."
So they said to him, "Who are you, so
we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?" He
said: "I am the voice of one crying out
in the desert, ´Make straight the way of the Lord,´
as Isaiah the prophet said." Some Pharisees were also
sent. They asked him, "Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the
Prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water; but
there is one among you whom you do not
recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal
strap I am not worthy to untie." This happened
in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the
Son of God who came into this world to
save us because you love us. Your Incarnation fills
me with hope. The only response I can give is
to love you with all my heart, soul, strength
Petition: Jesus, help me to learn from St.
John the Baptist how to bring others to you.
Making Jesus Known: The next few days have readings
on John the Baptist. These lead up to this
Sunday’s feast of the Epiphany, which celebrates the manifestation
of Jesus to the world. Tradition has linked several similar
events to Epiphany. Although the first one is the
coming of the Magi to Bethlehem, Christ’s Baptism in
the Jordan is also a key moment of revelation —
of epiphany — of Jesus’ mission and divinity. Thus,
although the Baptism of the Lord has its own
feast day a week after Epiphany, the two events have
a common result: They make known the truth of
Jesus. A first question we need to ask ourselves
is: What am I, a believer in Christ, doing to
make the truth of Jesus known to others?
Power of Humility: In this reading, John the Baptist
demonstrates the attitude fundamental to making Christ known: humility.
John the Baptist had the chance to be considered
the Messiah, the Christ. True, eventually the deception would
become known, but for a while he could have had
all of Israel at his feet. All too often
today, people give in to temptation and compromise their
principles to get glory and power for a day —
think of businessmen who inflate their company’s profits, or
scientists who fake their results. Their inevitable downfall is
tragic. St. John the Baptist knows that the only way
he can serve God and fulfill his mission in
life is to direct all glory to God and none
to himself, never presuming to be more than he
is. We, too, can live as true Christians and
make Jesus present to others only if we put aside
our own pride and vanity.
3. Living Love: What
really makes John the Baptist’s message effective is that he
doesn’t just preach his message; he is his message.
He preaches penance, but first he lives it, going
out into the desert and living an ascetic life. He
baptizes with water, but first he gets into the
water. If we want to make Jesus known to
others, we first have to know him ourselves. We cannot
preach the essence of the Gospel, the message of
love, if we don’t live love in our daily lives.
We can’t criticize, judge others, and always “look out
for number one” (where “one” is ourselves) and still
hope to be an effective apostle of Christ. However,
if with the help of God’s grace, we do our
best to put love into action, then words will
hardly be necessary. Our example alone will change people’s
Conversation with Christ: Lord, when I look at
myself and my life, I see that too often I
have been selfish, focused on what I enjoy and
on what I want. Help me to love you above
all things. Help me want to make you known
by living love, even at the cost of my own
pride and comfort.
Resolution: I will make an extra
effort today to show through my actions what it
means to love Christ and one another.