Is 49: 3. 5-6, I Cor 1: 1-3, John 1: 29-34
A lesson from John the Baptist:
They say that we see other people not as they are but as we are. The following story illustrates the truth of this.
Once upon a time there was a king who called one of his servants. The same servant was known to a be cruel, mean man, who had no friends. The king said to him, ‘I want you to go and travel the length and breadth of my kingdom and find for me a truly good person.
The man went. In the course of his travels he met and spoke with a great number of people. ’However, after a long time he came back to the king saying, ‘I have searched the whole kingdom as you asked me, but I couldn’t find even one truly good person. All of them, without exception, are mean, cruel, deceitful and evil. The good person you seek is nowhere to be found.’
Then the king called another servant. The man was known for his generosity and kindness and was loved by everyone. The king said to him, ‘Go and travel the length and breadth of my kingdom and find for me a truly wicked person.’
The man went and travelled far and wide. But after a long time he returned to the king saying, I have failed in the task you gave me to do. I found people who are misguided, people who are misled, people who act in blindness or in passion, but nowhere could I find a truly evil person. All of them are good at heart, despite the bad things they have done.’
We see people, not as they are, but as we are. Today’s Gospel provides us with another illustration of this truth. Jesus had only recently arrived from Nazareth. As yet he was completely unknown. Hence, he needed someone to introduce him to the public, and so launch him on his public mission. He found that person in John the Baptist.
One day, shortly after he had baptized Jesus, John saw Jesus passing by. Turning to his disciples he said. ‘There is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I spoke of when I said: A man is coming after me who ranks before me…’ With these generous words John introduced Jesus to his own disciples and to the public, and thus opened the way for him.
These words tell us a lot about the identity and mission of Jesus. Jesus was that Servant whose coming was foretold by Isaiah, and whose mission was to bring sinners back to God. But these words also tell us a lot about the kind of person John was.
John could have ignored Jesus, or criticized him. But far from doing this, he pointed him out to the people, he built him up before them. He did not see him as a threat, but as a friend and ally. Thus he facilitated the start of his mission. This shows what a good and generous man John was.
There is an important example of this. How did he get sinners to change their way of life? He did so, not by condemning them and keeping his distance from them, but by befriending them. He believed in them. He saw goodness in them. He put them in touch with their own goodness. Through his own luminous goodness he evoked goodness in them.
Jesus befriends us too. He puts us in touch with our own goodness. And once we are in touch with our own goodness, we will find goodness in others and help to bring out that goodness. Amen
Peace and all good!
Fr. Valery Burusu