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 baptize?”
John answered, “I only baptize 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 baptizing at the time.
Lord help us to keep ourselves focused on you this Advent,
Allow us not to be distracted by all the business of Christmas, and enable us to do what we can to get ready for you to come, to prepare a way for you.
John’s Gospel portrays John the Baptist as a really important Prophet, or messenger from God. In the stories that lead up to the birth of Jesus we hear about Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist, and her husband Zachariah. They both have experiences from God that tell them how special John will be. When John grows up he becomes well known and famous for baptising people in God’s name. But when he speaks of Jesus he knows that he isn’t at all important in comparison, he isn’t even important enough to hold Jesus coat.
This passage really reinforces how important Jesus’ coming is, and how we must be ready. How are you preparing? Imagine the Queen, Beyoncé, your favourite footballer or Pope Francis was coming round to see you, how would you prepare for that? Think of the effort you and your family would put in. Now think about what you would do for Jesus, who is much more important. This is what we are to prepare for in Advent.
Chris Knowles - Catholic Youth Worker