John 1: 6-8, 19-28
There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
When Jews from Jerusalem sent a group of priests and officials to ask John who he was, he was completely honest. He didn’t evade the question. He told the plain truth: “I am not the Messiah.”
They pressed him, “Who, then? Elijah?”
“I am not.”
Exasperated, they said, “Who, then? We need an answer for those who sent us. Tell us something—anything!—about yourself.”
“I’m thunder in the desert: ‘Make the road straight for God!’ I’m doing what the prophet Isaiah preached.”
Those sent to question him were from the Pharisee party. Now they had a question of their own: “If you’re neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet, why do you baptise?”
John answered, “I only baptise using water. A person you don’t recognize has taken his stand in your midst. He comes after me, but he is not in second place to me. I’m not even worthy to hold his coat for him.”
These conversations took place in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptising at the time.
This week, we’re half way through Advent and we light the rose-pink candle and think about joy!
In the Gospel, we’re with John the Baptist again. We are told he has come to show the way to the Light – and for us, in our dark days of winter, that’s a joyful thing to hear.
Again, John’s being treated like a huge star, but he makes sure everyone knows this is not all about him. Someone much more important is on his way. John’s the messenger, here to tell people that Jesus is coming to make changes in the world, and to get them ready to hear what he has to say.
One of the things John does to get people ready is to baptise them. Two thousand years later, we are still welcomed into the Christian family by being baptised, and if we stay true to that baptism, we become messengers of the Gospel, like John.
In our own ways, we can bring Jesus into the lives of everyone around us. Small, ordinary actions are really important. When we go over and speak to the new student who looks a bit lonely, we are showing the love Jesus taught us to share. When we smile at a homeless person on the street, give something to a food bank, let an old person have our seat on the bus, or have patience with a little brother or sister who’s getting on our nerves, we’re being messengers of the Gospel - just like John.
Little acts of kindness help people in much bigger ways than we realise – they bring joy to the people we help, and to us too. Each time we do these small things, we are showing everyone that this is the way Jesus taught us to live - and it’s catching! Seeing what we do will make others act more kindly too, spreading the Gospel message to more people.
Fr Kieran Anderson SDB told me about a poem his grandmother taught him, and I’d like to share it with you too:
We write a Gospel every day
by the things we do and the things we say.
So, be careful what you say or do,
because the only Gospel someone might read is you!
Salesian Communications Worker
As we wait to celebrate your birth into our world
Show us the little things we can do
every day to bring your love to others.
Help us to share joy
with the people around us,
In Advent, at Christmas
and all year round.