January 2, 2015

Gospel JN 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.
When I first read about John the Baptist he always seemed a bit, “way out there.” I mean, after all, the man chose to live in the desert, wore clothes made from camel hair (sounds very itchy) and he ate locusts, in other words, grasshoppers.
If I put myself in the holy land two thousand years ago, I can understand the question posed by the Jews: “Who are you?”
But, as is true in all relationships, I really need to “get to know the man.”
Jesus said of John the Baptist; “I tell all of you with certainty, among those born of women no one has appeared who is greater than John the Baptist.” Pretty high praise from Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
We have to remember, not only were the Scribes and Levites the religious leaders; in those days, they had the power of life and death over people.
What gave John the courage to be so outspoken to the point that he even called the Pharisees “a brood of vipers.”
To call a person versed in the Old Testament, particularly a person of power, a “viper’ was a very bold statement. We must remember, in the creation story it is the viper, the snake, who having tempted Eve to sin, epitomized evil.
John drew his courage to speak the truth from his single mindedness of purpose. He saw clearly that his purpose on earth was to make people aware of the coming of the Messiah  so they could prepare themselves. John was a man who cared not for the opinion of men. He spoke his piece and let the chips fall where they may.
At My Brother’s Keeper, the mission, the purpose for   existing, is to make known “the love and hope of Jesus Christ to those we serve.” May I always do so with the same courage and certainty of purpose as John the Baptist.