Wednesday - Christmas Time
1) Opening prayer
you sent your Son Jesus Christ
to bring the new light of salvation to the world.
May he enlighten us with his radiance,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - 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.' So 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.
• Today’s Gospel speaks about the witness of John the Baptist. The Jews sent “priests and Levites” to question him. In the same way, some years later, they sent persons to control the activity of Jesus (Mk 3, 22). There is a very great resemblance between the responses of the people regarding Jesus and the questions which the authority addresses to John. Jesus asks the Disciples: Whom do people say that I am?” They answered: “Elijah, John the Baptist, Jeremiah, one of the Prophets” (cf. Mk 8, 27-28). The authority address the same questions to Jesus: Are you the Messiah, or Elijah, the Prophet?” John responds by quoting the Prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice of one who cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord”. The other three Gospels contain the same affirmation concerning John: he is not the Messiah, but he has come to prepare the coming of the Messiah (cf. Mk 1, 3; Mt 3,3; Lk 3, 4). The four Gospels give great attention to the activity and the witness of John the Baptist. Which is the reason that they insist so much in saying that John is not the Messiah?
• John the Baptist was put to death by Herod around the year 30. But up to the end of the first century, the time when the Fourth Gospel was written, John continued to be considered a leader among the Jews. And also after his death, the souvenir of John continued to have a strong influence in the living out of the faith of the people. He was considered a prophet (Mk 11,32). He was the first great prophet who appeared after centuries of the absence of prophets. Many considered him as the Messiah. When in the year 50, Paul passed through Ephesus, in Asia Minor, he found a group of persons who had been baptized with the baptism of John (cf. Acts 19, 1-4). Because of this, it was important to spread the witness of John the Baptist himself saying that he was not the Messiah and instead to indicate Jesus as the Messiah. And thus, John himself contributed to radiate better the Good News of Jesus.
• “How is it that you baptize if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet? The response of John is another affirmation with which he indicates that Jesus is the Messiah: “ I baptize with water, but standing among you, unknown to you, is one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandal”. And a bit ahead (Jn 1, 33), John refers to the prophecies which announced the effusion of the Spirit in the Messianic times: “The one on whom you will see the Spirit descend and rest upon him, is the one who is to baptize with the Holy Spirit” (cf. Is 11, 1-9; Ez 36, 25-27; Joel 3, 1-2).
4) Personal questions
• In your life have you had a John Baptist who has prepared the way in you to receive Jesus?
• John was humble. He did not try to make himself greater than what he was. In reality: Have you been a Baptist for someone?
5) Concluding prayer
The whole wide world
has seen the saving power of our God.
Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,
burst into shouts of joy! (Ps 98,3-4)