Reflection for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
If you have ever attended an event featuring some famous socialites, or political figures, you may recall that they do not just show up on the stage; someone, mostly the master of ceremony, needs to announce their presence and ceremoniously usher them to speak or perform. This is called the introduction protocol.
This was the major function of John the Baptist. But more than an MC, he had to prepare the people spiritually before the announcement using his revolutionary preaching in the wilderness and baptism at the Jordan river.
Reintroducing John the Baptist and his Mission
John the Baptist is one important New Testament figure because of the messianic relevance of his mission. Recall that Jesus Christ said of him: “Truly I tell you, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist, yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matt. 11:11). He leaped for joy in the womb when Mary the mother of Jesus came visiting his mother Elizabeth (Luke 1:44).
The prophet Isaiah called him “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3). Malachi (3:1) says: “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me.”
The narrative surrounding the nativity of John the Baptist is very well-known to us. His birth was miraculous because it came from parents who had lost all the biological applications for childbearing. Of course, we know that what is impossible for mortals is possible with God (Luke 18:27).
The Testimony of the Man Sent from God
The Gospel John (1:6) tells us that John was a man sent from God to be a witness to testify to the light. From this statement, we understand that John the Baptist was born to announce the coming of the Messiah, prepare the people, and identify him when he comes. So, any other event around him was secondary.
We need to pay attention to what John said about his mission beyond what people said about him. The Gospel Reading (John 1:29-34) gives us John’s testimony while answering those sent by the Jewish leaders to ascertain his identity.
John was honest in telling them that he was not the Messiah or any old prophets, as some people may have thought. Rather he confirmed the prophecy of Isaiah that he is the voice of the one calling in the wilderness, ‘make straight the way for the Lord.’ (John 1:23).
On another occasion, John saw Jesus and said:’ behold the lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin (not sins) of the world. He was referring to the first sin that destroyed our relationship with God. So that means John understood the mission of the Messiah.
Another thing that John, who was a cousin to Jesus, said that would baffle anyone is his claim that he didn’t know who Jesus was until he showed up to be baptized in the Jordan because it was revealed to him that the man on whom the Spirit would descend and remain is the Messiah.
The above information is very interesting. It means that the baptism of John, apart from serving as repentance from sin, was a spiritual identifier of the messiah. So, as John was baptizing, he was consciously checking if the Spirit would descend and remain on anyone until that day Jesus showed up, and the heavens opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in the similitude of a dove with the voice of the Father calling Jesus his beloved son in whom He (God) is well pleased.
Moving Forward: Lessons from the Man sent from God
John ended by saying, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God” (John 1:34). With this and other facts, John leaves us with so much to think about in our lives and our Christian journey.
There is a divine purpose for your life: First, we learned that John was a man sent from God to be a witness to the light. Question: who sent you and for what? Of course, you are not sent from the devil. God sent you; you are here for a purpose, not by accident. In the divine plan, you have a place and a mission attached to you. The best thing you can discover in your life is your purpose. Fulfillment comes after purpose discovery.
Be honest and humble with your purpose: John the Baptist was honest in stating that he is not the Messiah though he manifested exceptional values. For example, he said, “I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals,” which means he is not worthy of being his servant. In another place, John said, “he will increase, and I will decrease” (John 3:30).
Some people have crashed their purposes in life because of dishonesty and pride. Remember that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). So be humble with your purpose, and God will exalt you (James 4:10).
Present your testimony: We often see only what God needs to do for us but fail to see and acknowledge what he has already done in our lives. As a result, we have more petitions than thanksgiving. John saw and testified to what about you?
In the First Reading (Isaiah 49:3,5-6), God says I will make us a light to the nations so that we can reach the end of the earth. The primary function of light is to shine, and this is where our testimony emerges.
Have a blessed week ahead!