Today’s Gospel proclamation speaks about the witness of John the Baptist. His primary role is not as one who baptises but one who testifies to the light coming into the world, a human wit¬ness to a cosmic event. God is about to order a new creation, a new presence of light in the world but it necessitates a fellow human to point to its presence, otherwise, human as we are, we might not see it. That human being is St. John the Baptist.
To the question raised by the Jewish leaders as to – “Who are you?” St. John the Baptist had no difficulty answering. If someone chal¬lenged our identity — both naturally and spiritually, how would we answer? There is an identity war going on today and many are in crisis or at least confused. We can try to manufacture an identity, but it is derived. The true source and maker of our real identity are God who made us in his image and likeness. St. John identifies himself in and through his relationship with the Lord Jesus. Whereas Jesus defines himself as “I AM,” John is clear to say, “I am not.” He is not the Messiah, Elijah, or the Prophet. He is not the light that shines in the darkness. Yet, even in his resolute claims about who he is not, who he is and why he is here is defined by and inseparable from the presence of the Word made flesh in his midst. He knows nothing but to articulate his identity in connection to the Lord Jesus’ identity. To the question “Who are you?” can we respond with the same in¬divisibility with God and all that God wants us to be? Can we locate our identity as intimately with Jesus as John identified? What makes John the Baptist’s message effective is that he does not just preach his message; he is his message. He preaches penance, but first, he lives it, going out into the desert and living an ascetic life. He baptizes with water, but first, he gets into the water. If we want to make Jesus known to others, we first have to know him ourselves. We cannot preach the essence of the Gospel, the message of love, if we don’t live love in our daily lives. However, if with the help of God’s grace, we do our best to put love into action, then words will hardly be necessary.
Prayer: Abba Father, as you chose John, we pray that we also manifest Jesus to the world by identifying with your beloved Son. Amen.