B Cycle – 3rd Sunday of Advent 20
Jn. 1:6-8, 19-28
In our lifetime we fulfill many different roles. When we are young, we are children, siblings, students. If we are at all social, we are friends, athletes, and seekers. In adulthood we become husbands, wives, parents, employees, employers, members of clubs and organizations including our church where we become members of the Body of Christ. But the question asked of John is a critical one for us to consider. In fact, it is probably a key question if we are going to find the meaning and purpose of our existence.
Who are you? If you pay attention you will note John did not say I am John, son of Zachariah and Elizabeth which would be a logical response. Nor did he respond by saying, John from Judea, another logical response. He did not respond by saying, John, representing someone in authority another logical response. No, he simply said, I am not the Christ. Put yourself in his place and imagine you travelled to a nearby town and parish, where you proceed to tell everyone about some great program which had an impact on your spiritual life. Then suddenly, someone in the crowd asks you “who are you.” Wouldn’t your answer be to identify yourself and where you are from and try to attach someone’s name to yourself, so you have creditability?
The beauty of this story is the humility of John, as he says I am nobody but there is one you need to pay attention to for he is coming. Paul speaking of the humility of Jesus said, “he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped but he emptied himself taking on the form of a slave” (Phil 2:6-7)? John understood, not only who he was but he also understood his part in God’s plan of salvation. How did he come to that knowledge and if we can understand how he came to know, then we too can come to know and begin to answer the question God wants all of us to answer and that is “who you were created to become?”
We do not know much of the life of John making it difficult to discover a hard fast step by step guide to discover who we are from looking at John’s life. But we do have some clues that are no different than ours. We know John’s birth was announced by an angel to Zachariah and Elizabeth as well as to Mary. We know from his birth; he was filled with the Holy Spirit and was destined to be great in the eyes of God (Lk.1:13-16). Well and good for John but you say that is not us so how can we learn from John’s life?
God said this to us in the scriptures, “Before you were formed in your mother’s womb, I knew you. You hem me in behind and before, your hand is upon me. Where can I go from your Spirit, or where can I go from your presence. Your formed me and in your book is written every one of my days that I should live in them.” Each one of those words are in Psalm 139. We know John was special and was prepared in advance for his role in salvation history. But we too are special and were created for a plan and a purpose? Paul picks up on this spiritual truth as he wrote to the Ephesians emphasizing, “we are created in Christ Jesus for the good works he as prepared in advance for us” (Eph. 2:10).
So, the real issue for us is to take that first step and acknowledge we like John have been chosen to prepare the way of the Lord. Which brings us back to the original question, who are you. The answer is not to say I am Jim or Mary from St. Basil’s in Brecksville, Ohio. The answer is like John I am just a person who believes in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to free us from the penalty of our sins and who has filled my heart and life with Joy. Yet, it is not enough for me to realize that, for it is a story that must be told and retold because what we have is not intended for just a select few. It is the reason Jesus Came into the world; it is why we celebrate Christmas not just on December 25th but every day of the year.
Like the Baptist, each of us, must have that moment when we leap for joy when Christ comes before us and we respond by proclaiming not just him but why he lived, died, and rose again. To acknowledge that is the first steps toward becoming a disciple like John. To acknowledge who Jesus is forms the first step toward our reclaiming what we lost by Adam’s sin. Living in the Kingdom of God on earth, walking with God daily, enjoying the knowledge we are loved, forgiven and we will triumph over evil because God has overcome all that seeks to destroy us.
Each of us have the same choice John the Baptist gave the people of his day – stop living our faith by trying to appease God and begin the life of a disciple by saying yes to Jesus. It is a choice, and it opens the door to be touched by the hand of God, to be enfolded in his arms and feel his forgiveness and guidance as we seek to tell the world – who we are. We, each of us, are sons and daughters of the Lord, living in the Kingdom of God on earth and filled with an absolute truth which is we are created to give God praise and honor by our witness and how we live our lives.