02Jan Monday, 02 January 2012

1 John 2:22-28 To abide in Jesus is to live in God’s own truth.

John 1:19-28. John the Baptist prepared the way for a greater Mediator.

John’s Challenging Demands

John the Baptist was called by God to prepare the way for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. In the Greek church tradition, John is given the title “prodromos“,  and in the Western, Latin church he is “precursor” (forerunner), to honour his unique role in the story of our salvation. In order to prepare himself to be the spiritual guide for others, he was led by the Holy Spirit to an austere and contemplative lifestyle in the wilderness, from his youth until his early manhood, about thirty years of age.

At that stage he began his public mission as a preacher of repentance and renewal to his Jewish people. Clothed in a rough penitential garb of camel-skin, be announced the grace of God to all who came to him in search of repentance, and who went down into the waters of baptism for the washing away of their sins. He showed them simple ordinary ways to serve God in their daily lives, and proclaimed the imminent coming of the Messiah, who would pour out God’s Spirit more richly upon them.

Many of the people – especially those whom the Temple authorities regarded as marginal Jews (such as tax collectors and prostitutes) received John as the true herald of God, and his words were heard as those of a true prophet. To the official leaders of Judaism, the Priests and the Pharisees, John seemed more a threat than a blessing. Their resistance to a message requiring moral and spiritual renewal made them unable to hear the divine guidance latent in his words. Today’s Gospel is a sober reminder to all of us, but especially to church leaders, to listen to what the Holy Spirit says through the voices of awkward prophecy.

First Reading 1 John 2:22-28

Who is the liar, if not one who claims that Jesus is not the Christ? This is the Antichrist, who denies both the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son cannot have the Father either; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father too. Let what you heard in the beginning remain in you; as long as what you heard in the beginning remains in you, you will remain in the Son and in the Father. And the promise he made you himself is eternal life.

So much have I written to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. But as for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you; since the anointing he gave you teaches you everything, and since it is true, not false, remain in him just as he has taught you. Therefore remain in him now, children, so that when he appears we may be fearless, and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

Gospel: John 1:19-28

This was the witness of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He declared, he did not deny but declared, ‘I am not the Christ.’ So they asked, ‘Then are you Elijah?’ He replied, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’

Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So he said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied: A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord. Make his paths straight!’

Now those who had been sent were Pharisees, and they put this question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the Prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptise with water; but standing among you — unknown to you- is the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandal.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.