A146: Why didn’t John the Baptist recognize Jesus as the Messiah right away?
Today’s gospel (John 1:29-41) is part of the Baptist’s conversion story, and it parallels our own conversion stories. We are all familiar with both St. Matthew’s and St. John’s gospels, and the “stages” they describe that John the Baptist went through before he “recognized” Jesus as the Savior. Even from prison, the Baptist sent his followers to find out from Jesus if he really was the Chosen one. It seems that Jesus’ actions in public ministry were surprising to the Baptist, and not quite what he had been expecting (e.g., see Matt 11:2-6).
For most of us, I think it is fair to state that our faith journey comes in “stages” or by degrees. Again, most of us are “cradle Christians” and our faith development reflects this necessary progression as we grow in wisdom. We encounter Jesus at least weekly in the Sunday liturgical setting (and hopefully in daily bible reading and study), and the more we meet Jesus, the more our faith progressively deepens.
Reflection: Like John the Baptist, my faith is a “work in progress” and needs time to deepen and grow through repeated encounters with Christ. In what ways have I taken steps to make sure that this necessary growth takes place? What one additional action can I take this week in response to the scripture readings today?
Q. 459: If the “Suffering Servant” in today’s first reading (Is 49:3,5-6) is seen allegorically as talking about Jesus, how does it impact on my own life?
The first thing that jumps to mind is that we are true disciples, therefore we are called to imitate Jesus. So what do we find to imitate in these verses?
As usual, a wonderful verse is “skipped” in our reading, verse 4. That verse notes that all of the Servant’s efforts seemed to be useless, since he could see no results; nevertheless, he trusts in the Lord. What happens when you trust like that? The Lord will use you even more! The Servant in this Isaiah passage was working within his own family and religious group. The Lord says that isn’t enough! Even though you see no results, and are discouraged because of that, he’s going to expand your ministry, and send you to those outside of your closed circle!
But the message remains the same: we are called to spread the reality of Jesus the Messiah, and his message of love and mercy. Not just within our family circle, but in every forum that presents itself to us. Like John the Baptist in today’s Gospel (Jn 1:29-34), we “testify” to what we have seen and experienced. We become “God’s flashlights,” reflecting his light to every dark corner we encounter in life. We become “a light to the nations,” pointing the way to Jesus the Savior. This is how his salvation reaches every nook and cranny of our world. This is how disciples “imitate” Jesus – even in his suffering if that happens – by continuing to trust in the Lord, even though we see no results from our labors. Perhaps a loved one is not responding to the Lord’s call. Here is where you really learn to trust the Lord. Continue being that “reflected light” of Christ’s love and forgiveness, and trust that the Lord will bring good out of your efforts – on his own timetable, not yours.
KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! It is God’s strength, communicated to us by his Spirit of life, that enables us to “shine his light” to others (CCC #713). He needs each one of us to spread his truth about the “radical redemption” offered to all who believe and hope in him (CCC #64).