John the Baptist: The witness who summons all to faith in Jesus
The third Sunday of Advent, we light the Rose candle, symbolic of joy. John the Baptist had a central role to play in the coming of the Saviour. He proved to be a courageous and effective witness. He had a very strong personality and was a man of principle. He did not go in for a life of comfort rather he lived in the desert. His was a living example of what he preached. Yet, his vision of what the Messiah would be like was very different from what Jesus modeled. Their approaches were also very different.
For John, the Messiah would be an uncompromising judge and give a fiery judgement on all the sinners. But, Jesus made it clear that he did not come to condemn the sinners but to save them. While John preached bad news, (focused by sin) Jesus preached good news. John prophesied the judgement of God and Jesus prophesied the salvation of God. John was an ascetic but Jesus mixed with the people, eating and drinking with all including sinners.
Their approaches and differences raised questions among many as to know who is who, and who is what? John the Baptist declares that he is not the Messiah. Nor is he Elijah, who was expected to precede the Messiah. Nor is he the prophet who was to come. He is merely the voice in the wilderness spoken of by the prophet of Isaiah. His task was to prepare the way for the Messiah who has already come and stands among the people, though they did not recognize him.
John declares, “There stands one among you whom you know not.” John despite the prophecies that were made about him disclaimed that he was the Messiah. Further, he considered himself unworthy to untie the sandal of our Lord, but our Lord Jesus would surpass John in humility, as Jesus would wash the feet of the Apostles. The greatness of John consisted in the fact that to him alone was given the privilege of running before the chariot of the King saying, “Christ has come and He is here among you.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters, St. John in his Gospel says, “He was in the world and the world did not know him.” (John 1:11) Even when he finally came into the public arena, not everyone recognized and believed in him. Even John the Baptist did not recognize him at first. He recognized him only when he saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove at his baptism. (John 1:31-32). This can happen to us not only during the advent and Christmas season but all the time. Without the witness of Christ in our lives, we will offer a blurry sign to the world and Jesus will continue to stand among us unknown and unrecognized.
The Oblate vocation is a call to be a voice in the wilderness of our confused world as was John. But Oblates are to be more concerned with salvation than judgement which was the witness of Jesus. In this way we will disappoint some and delight others. But the more that we are seeking God and the kingdom we will taste in this life joy of which is to come. Above all the Oblate vocation is to stand with people in the wilderness and not against them.
By Susai Jesu, OMI
Vocation Team – West