Thursday, January 01, 2015

Pointing the Way to the Truth

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you.  If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.  And this is the promise that he made us:  eternal life.   (I John 2:24-25)

So (the priests and Levites) 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.”  (John 1:22-23)

O Lord, may all that we say and do make straight the path to You.

If we asked several people to describe us, we’d probably end up with a variety of portraits.  No two people see us in exactly the same way.  That’s true for John the Baptist as well.  The first century historian Josephus wrote in his Antiquities of the Jews (c. 93 A.D.) that John the Baptist was put to death by Herod to preempt a possible uprising.  John must have had a great many dedicated followers to inspire such fear.

Mark in his Gospel describes John’s attire (camel’s hair clothes), his odd diet of locusts and wild honey and the fact that he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sin.

Matthew goes along with Mark but adds John’s critical stance toward the Pharisees and Sadducees to his picture.

Luke says that John teaches charitable giving to the poor and dispenses advice to tax collectors and soldiers even as he is baptizing.

In today’s Gospel, John tells us only one thing about John the Baptist:  he is a witness to the Truth.  He points the way to Jesus, the one in our midst he says we do not know.

You and I are called to do the same thing, to point the way to Jesus.  If what we have “heard from the beginning” is woven into the very fiber of our lives, we are asked to show the way to that life-giving Truth to everyone we encounter.

Yesterday we rang in the New Year.  I’m sure that many of you made resolutions, and I’m equally sure that some of those resolutions have already been broken.  It happens every time.  But as we’re looking ahead to 2015, why not pray about how best to be a modern-day John the Baptist this year?

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