Through Her liturgical seasons, the Church invites us to remember the events of Jesus’ life, but more importantly to walk with Him through them, to enter into His mystery, and to bring our own lives, year after year, into close conformity with Him.
Last Sunday, we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord, which marked the end of the Christmas season. This Sunday, we find ourselves, once again, in the liturgical season that the Church calls ordinary time. What does this mean for you and me? The readings today remind us of our call to be witnesses in both word and deed. During Christmas, we celebrated the birth of the God-man, Jesus Christ. “A child is born to us” (Is. 9:6) we clamoured, and we rejoiced at the birth of Him who came to “save his people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:21) Last week, we celebrated the revelation of His divinity at the baptism and His loving condescension and solidarity with us sinners. Now, having witnessed, celebrated, and rejoiced at these events, we are called to share our joy with those around us. Thus, it is to us, you and I, that today’s words of Isaiah are for: “You are my servant,” and “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Is. 69:3,6)
In the gospel reading, Jesus pronounces no words and, about Him, we are only told that He came toward John the Baptist. This simple action, however, is full of meaning. In our relationship with God, the initiative is always God’s. It is He who first reveals Himself, who first seeks us, who first loves us. Here, Jesus comes towards John the Baptist, and in doing so, initiates the revelation of the Father that He has come to give. Here, He begins His ministry, the primary purpose of which is to witness to the love and mercy of the Father, to bring us into that relationship with the Father that He already enjoys.
While the gospel only provides a single indication about Jesus’ own actions, it gives us (after the Blessed Virgin) with the example par excellence, of what a disciple’s testimony is to look like. John the Baptist is the perfect role model of the witness that we are to bear to those around us. As soon as he sees Jesus coming towards him, he proclaims Him as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29) before anyone that can hear. However, John does not only bear witness by his words, but also by his deeds. Indeed, John himself says, “I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” (Jn. 131) By his baptismal efforts, he has already been preparing those around him to receive and accept the Lord. The Baptist’s life, in other words, was wholly centered on bringing people to Jesus.
The invitation of today’s readings is to be witnesses of God’s love before those who do not know Him. To do so just as Jesus bore witness to the Father before us who did not know Him, and just as John the Baptist bore witness to Jesus. The invitation is to continue, throughout this Ordinary time, to conform our lives with Jesus, who by His witness gave glory to the Father and brought us back into relationship with Him. With John the Baptist it is fitting then to say: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30).
Santiago Torres – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta
Fot. Karl Fredrickson/Unsplash.com