15th JANUARY 2023

BAPTISM - John the Baptist (The Forerunner of Jesus) ClassNotes.ng



Is 49: 3, 5-6;               Ps 40: 2,4,7-10;                      1 Cor 1: 1-3;              Jn 1: 29-34



We were celebrating Christmas a few weeks back. We come into the Church that is still lively, but strangely different. The Crib is back in storage, the wise men have returned to the east, the shepherds to their flocks, the angels have stopped singing, and the star has disappeared. Christmas is a memory. We are now in what the church ironically calls ordinary time, back to the old routine. Christmas was a high point, but not the highest. Christmas changed our world, but only if you let it be changed. No Christian can live on Christmas alone. Jesus is no longer an infant, He did not stay in Bethlehem and make the crib His home for life. He moved out, and spent 30 years in our world, among which three years publicly encountering the people He had been born to save. God has a purpose for each of us, and through that purpose, reveals his Son and the power of his love.

The liturgy today inspires us to think about the call to holiness and the need to declare that Jesus has died for our redemption. In the first reading, we hear one of the “Servant Songs”. The psalm is a prayer of both thanksgiving and lament. The second reading evokes the call to holiness. The Gospel recalls the public actions of John the Baptist to identify Jesus as the Lamb of God. John the Baptist recalls the baptism of Jesus and that he saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus.

Prophet Isaiah speaks of his vocation as he prophesies about the Messiah. He shares how God chose him to constantly remind the Israelites of the covenant and urge them to return to God’s favour. This was God’s purpose for him, his vocation. And this vocation that he lived, as the whole book of Isaiah testifies, revealed how the Messiah would be the light to the nations. In the second reading, St Paul tells of his appointment as an apostle, and in revealing his vocation, shares how Jesus Christ is the Lord of all. He, who persecuted the Church, now chosen as an apostle, was a great testimony to this truth.

In the Gospel, we have the confession of John the Baptist, who testifies that his vocation was to prepare the way for the Messiah, and in doing so, reveals him to be the Lamb of God. John the Baptist found his reason for existence. The ministry of John the Baptist was mainly to testify to Jesus. It was not about him but, rather, about Jesus. He was to point out the Lamb of God to the world. His mission is not different from the mission of every Christian. We are to point out the Lamb of God to the world. Unfortunately, we live in a world where many Christians think that is all about them. Instead of presenting Christ to the world, they keep on ‘blowing up their egos’. Instead of advertising Christ, the Lamb of God, they keep on advertising themselves. Our mission is to be a signpost like John the Baptist. John the Baptist was not a typical person of his time. When we consider his life, we realize that it was not John’s dress or preaching that made him extraordinary, it was the fact that he found the purpose of his life.

Jesus tells us today that he is the Lamb of God. It means, actually He is the shepherd and we are the lambs. It also means that we too become the Lamb of God. We become the sons and daughters of God or, as it says in the readings today, the children of God. And that means that our lives have been changed, and the one thing that God calls us, each day, is to live with Jesus who teaches us how, which is the fullness of God’s love, flowing through us and to each other. This is why Jesus came and this is why today we say with great gratitude, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

As Christians, we are meant to live in Christ. We are not meant to live “in Isaiah” or “in Paul”, as much as we ought to follow their respective examples. But each of us is meant to live “in Christ”. This is not something that the Christian can accomplish through human effort or good works. Only God can accomplish this. God’s chief means for doing so are the Sacraments and grace given within personal prayer. For our part, we need to work at disposing ourselves for reception of these divine gifts. God’s gifts allow Christ to live in us, and allow Christ to say through us: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”

Response: See, I have come, Lord, to do your will.

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