December 13, 2020: Third Sunday of Advent
Gospel of John 1:6-8, 19-28
A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
“What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Imagine yourself standing in the crowd waiting to be baptized. The religious leaders send scouts to ask John: “What do you think you’re doing? Who do you think you are?” Johns’ response is immediate and clear, “I am not the Messiah.”
What are you feeling as you listen? Does John’s response confuse you? You were attracted to John’s call to repentance. You really do want to start over and make something more of your life. Do you wonder whether you should still get baptized if he’s not the Messiah? Many in the crowd standing there must’ve had similar questions. The leaders ask, “Is he Elijah or the Prophet?” Again it must’ve raised confusion. Maybe some people walked away but there was something about John that compelled you to stay. There’s the feeling that John is offering something more. John makes the mysterious claim, “I am a voice crying in the wilderness.” Then John says something which makes all the waiting worthwhile, you thought.
John was an amazing character, a charismatic leader and yet he promises someone “whose sandal strap he (John) is not worthy to untie.” Imagine yourself actually being baptized, feel the water, be aware of your commitment to change your life. You walk away full of anticipation for what’s coming next.
Some morning this week take a little extra water and pour it over your head saying, “I remember my baptism.” Ask again for the grace promised in Baptism to be more patient with those around you, gentler, more aware of Jesus’ love for you. Maybe you too can walk away full of anticipation for a new day.