The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 15, 2017
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Sunday Reading Meditations
We have started Ordinary Time. From the Monday following the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord until Ash Wednesday, we shall not be celebrating any specific mystery of Our Lord. Instead, our attention goes to Jesus’ public life in general.
Today’s Gospel describes John the Baptist’s reaction when he encounters Christ at the River Jordan. In John’s example and words, we find inspiration for what it means to be a disciple. John conceived of himself as a servant. The words of the first reading apply to him: “You are my servant through whom I show my glory” (Is 49:3).
There is a radical difference between John’s and Jesus’ baptisms. John baptized with water. Jesus came to baptize with the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus still uses water in the new baptism. Matter is still needed as an instrument and sign for the action of the Spirit. The water serves the Holy Spirit. There can be no baptism of the Holy Spirit without water.
John’s mission was to point out Christ: “Behold, the lamb of God” (Jn 1:29). He did not want people to follow him but to follow Jesus. John was following Jesus. He recognized that Christ was the one for whom his heart had been made. He found an immediate correspondence between what he had been waiting for all his life and Jesus, the Lamb of God. His faith and enthusiasm about Christ challenged the people surrounding him to do the same. Those who recognize Christ are instruments for attracting others. It is in this way that faith is transmitted.
I am reminded of a famous quote from Paul VI: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.(1) A speech cannot attract people to Christ. It is encountering those for whom Christ is everything that ignites the gift of faith in people’s hearts.
Nowadays, to evangelize means to show to our brothers and sisters that following Jesus Christ is a meaningful way of life. Faith has to be promoted as a means for achieving a more human way of living. To pursue holiness does not mean to be a strange person who is detached from reality. When we truly follow Jesus Christ, we are able to capture the infinite in the commonplace. Faith is a light that permeates all things, filling them with brightness and color.
Like Saint John the Baptist, we need to find the correspondence between our aspirations and the event of Christ. Then, like John, we need to become heralds of the good news. In Saint John, we find that encounter and mission go together.
Let us pray for John the Baptist to inspire how we live our faith so that, like him, we may become servants through whom God shows his glory to the world. Amen.
1. Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, December 8, 1975.