03 January, 2013. Thursday before Epiphany.
1 Jn 2:29ff. We are God’s children now; when he is revealed, we will be like him.
Jn 1:29-34. The Baptist bears witness to Jesus, “who ranks ahead of me.”
First Reading: 1 John 2:29—3:6
If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who does right has been born of him. See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.
Gospel: John 1:29-34
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
Two thoughts overlap as we think about today’s Scriptures: first, John’s dramatic call to behold the Lamb of God; second, that we have just finished Christmas and are beginning a new year. With regard to beginning the new year there is the sense of the need to take stock, to look at where we are going, and to make the inevitable “resolutions” that might raise the quality of this coming year. The Baptist asks us to take stock too, and maybe to make some changes. Listening to him we are inclined to ask what are we fundamentally about; and then to think what might need changing our lives. To what extent does the outlook of Jesus Christ shape our own approach to this new year? Is he a central figure in our lives or just a name, out on the edges, for moments of crisis?
The honest stock-taking of our situation that the Baptist calls for may contrast with the ego-centric way we usually conduct our lives. We need to recognise something larger than ourselves, the God who cares for us and for the whole human community. Can we listen to John’s call to restore what is broken, and Jesus’ call, to bring light to the world? Do we see that it is with our willing help that the Lamb can remove the “sin of the world?” Facing deeper truths is difficult; it calls us to not just drift along with the status quo, as the line of least resistance. True discipleship is costly, but it is also possible and is the way towards the deeper joy and fulfilment that we seek. If we Listen to the Baptist in his pointing to Christ, then our stock-taking can go to the root of our being. It may even reveal to us the truth that sets us free.