John the Baptist’s Testimony to Jesus
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
A story was once told of a judge at the end of a long line of penitents waiting to go to confession. Encouraged by a priest who told him to go to the sacristy where he could be attended to promptly, the well-known jurist politely replied, “Thank you, Father, I’ll wait for my turn, elsewhere I am the judge, this time I am the culprit, humbly awaiting judgment.”
“After me is to come a person who ranks ahead of me, because he was before me.” We picture John as the fiery and towering prophet, preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah. His presence commanded awe and reverence by the people who came to repent and be baptized. Asked who he was, he would say, with firmness and clarity, “I baptize with water but the one who is coming will baptize you with Holy Spirit and fire. As for me, I am not worthy to untie his sandal.”
Indeed, true greatness lies not in fulfilling one’s personal interest and ambition, not even in self-immolation for a human cause but in knowing one’s finite self called to be a partner of God’s mission to build His kingdom of love and truth.
From human experience, it is not easy to find oneself under the shadow of another. John shows us the way to complete joy by living out what he said of Christ, “It is necessary that he increase but that I decrease.” Sometimes when we find ourselves confronted with other ideas and ways of doing things, it is so difficult to accept that others could have better ideas and could do it better. John’s humility uncovers the simplicity of divine truth and love. (Fr. Ben Limsuan, SVD Bible Diary 2002)
About two years ago, Pope John Paul II introduced to the whole Catholic world the new Five Mysteries of the Light of the Holy Rosary. Today’s gospel reading speaks of the First Mystery: Jesus’ Baptism at the River Jordan.
On that occasion, John the Baptist taught his followers by pointing at Jesus saying: “Behold the Lamb of God… the Son of God.”
Familiar with the Old Testament religious practices, John knew the meaning of the symbol of lamb. He knew that daily, at the temple of Jerusalem, a lamb was offered in atonement for the sins of the Jews. In the New Testament, the role of the lamb will be that of Jesus Christ. He will atone for the sins of humankind by dying on the Cross on Calvary.
After baptizing Jesus, John saw the Spirit coming down in the form of a dove. He heard a voice revealing Jesus as the Son of God. God the father had chosen John to be a witness to His Son’s divinity.
As we recall Jesus baptism, let us be reminded of our own baptism. It was an important event in our life. Unfortunately or fortunately, most of us in the Philippines were baptized as babies. Our godparents pronounced the vows on our behalf. Now that we are older, let us own our baptismal vows. God has chosen us to be His own. Be grateful. God has also chosen us to be His witnesses to the whole world about the divinity of His son. Let us courageously and faithfully follow His teachings in the marketplace – in our places of work and recreation, in times of joy and sorrow.
Remember that Jesus counts on you as His modern-day missionary in the 21st century. Your actions will speak more than your words! (Fr. Flor Camacho, SVD Bible Diary 2004)
Conflict in any relationship arises from several factors. In work-related relationships in particular, role ambiguity occurs when someone is uncertain about what is expected of him/her. Relationship-related stress can actually be minimized, if not altogether avoided, if roles and competence are clearly defined. Having such would allow all parties in any relationship to know what to expect from each other.
John the Baptist for his part had a clearly defined task. This entailed knowing fully well when and where his role begins and ends. One day upon seeing Jesus he testified about Jesus to the crowd, saying”…the reason why I came baptizing with water was that He might be made known to Israel” (Jn 1:23). Earlier in this same incident when asked of his identity John categorically stated that he is not messiah (Jn 1:15) and appropriated to himself the role of “a voice crying in the wilderness” (Jn 1:17) to herald the coming of the real redeemer of the world. Indeed when roles are clearly made conflicts of expectations and their resulting stress are fairly put at bay and prevented. (Fr. Nielo Cantilado, SVD Bible Diary 2006)
As the Christmas days passed him by, a young lad kept most of his gift intact and wrapped. His father, a kind and mild man, asked: “why have you not opened most of your gifts, son?” Grinning, the boy uttered sheepishly, “Papa, the Christmas spirit is slowly passing us by and soon Christmas will be over. I have seen and felt the joys of Christmas but there are those who did not. So, I thought of saving some of my gifts and sharing it with some kids so that they too would see and feel Christmas even if Christmas has passed.”
The Magi from the east followed the star until it stopped at the place of the nativity of our Lord. Inside the stable they found a “child wrapped in swaddling clothes,” lying in a manger. In humble adoration they knelt and offered their gifts. The Magi saw and recognized the little child as the Messiah, King of kings and Prince of peace.
John the Baptist too recognized Jesus in today’s gospel and ‘testified the He is the Son of God.’
Soon we shall be putting away our Christmas decors. As the children go back to school, and we have settled to our daily routines at work and at home, the joy and cheer of Christmas will pass and fade. Like the little boy in our story, we saw and recognized Jesus in the love and joy we have experienced with our family, our friends and our community during Christmas. Like the little boy may we too share that experience with the less fortunate. (Fr. Flavie L. Villanueva, SVD Bible Diary 2007)
The phrase “the lamb of God” is very familiar to us, especially in that part of the Mass just before Communion. To most of us who are not schooled in theology or biblical studies, the common image that will float in our mind is perhaps, a lamb taken from pictures, movies, or TV, because lambs or sheep or not common animals in the Philippines, or perhaps, a stylized depiction of a white lamb on an Easter cloth banner in the church sanctuary to symbolize the risen Christ.
Let us call mind two biblical images or allusions familiar to us, with definite connections to Christ. The first is from the Old Testament, from Isaiah, which speaks about the suffering servant being “led like a lamb to the slaughter.” Let us prayerfully reflect on Isaiah’s suffering servant as Christ who suffered for us sinners, averting our own destruction by his own death “at the slaughter.” The second imagery is from another Old Testament allusion: Christ as the Passover Lamb who saves His people from the destructive wrath of Yahweh. In Exodus, the blood of the Passover lamb, sprinkled over the doors of the homes of the Hebrews (as opposed to the houses of the Egyptians) was a distinctive sign to Yahweh’s avenging angel to spare the Hebrew dwellers inside the marked houses.
Christ saves me by assuming my sinfulness and going like a lamb to the slaughter. For me, this thought sometimes does not pierce keenly my soul when I repent of my sins in the sacrament of Penance. I am relieved from my sins, because Christ takes over the whole baggage of sin from my shoulders. He picks me up from the morass of sin, cleans me up from the dirt of sin, and sends me on my way – clean and fragrant with grace.
Christ, the Passover Lamb, saves me by marking me with His blood so that the full wrath of God will not descend on me. His blood marks me as a “Hebrew” belonging to His special people. “You shall be my people, I shall be your God.” Let me then be worthy of this special mark, by belonging to a family, a household marked by the blood of the Passover Lamb (Fr. Ted Gapus, SVD Bible Diary 2012).
JANUARY 3 – 1 JUAN 2:29-3:6. Kinsa man ang mga anak sa Dios? Ang Katolikong Pagtulon-an nagtudlo nga pinaagi sa bunyag diha ni Kristo kita nahimong mga sinagop nga mga anak sa Dios. Kini ang pinakadako ug pinakabililhong gasa nga atong nadawat gikan sa Ginoo. Pinaagi niini kita nahimong manununod sa Gingharian sa Dios, usa ka butang nga dili mabaylo-an sa bisan unsang bahandi ning kalibotan. Apan, ang maong gasa usa usab ka dakong responsabilidad. Isip binunyagan aduna kitay kaakohan sa pagpuyo’g kinabuhi nga subay sa kinabuhi ni Kristo. Matod pa sa Unang Sulat ni San Juan, “Ang tanan nga anaa kang Kristo dili na angay magpuyo sa sala; ang magpadayon sa pagpakasala wala pa makakita ni makaila Kaniya.” Nga sa ato pa, kadto lamang magbuhat og matarong maoy tinuod nga sumusunod ni Kristo ug maisip nga mga anak sa Dios.
(English) Who are the children of God? The Catholic doctrine teaches that baptism in Christ we have been adopted children of God. This is the greatest and most precious gift we have received from the Lord. By this we become heirs of the Kingdom of God, a thing not to be confused with any wealth in the world. However, this gift is also a great responsibility. As adopted, we have a responsibility in living life after the life of Christ. According to the First Letter of John, “All that is in Christ should not live in sin; continues to sin has never seen nor known Him. “That is to say, only those who do the right is a true follower of Christ and the multitude of the children of God.
JUAN 1:29-34. Unsa may gipasabot sa ngalang HESUS – ang labing balaang ngalan nga atong gipasidunggan karong adlawa? Ang Hesus nagagikan sa Hudiyong ngalan nga Yeshua (Joshua) nga nagpasabot, “Ang Ginoo mao ang kaluwasan”. Diha sa ebanghelyo, si Hesus gitawag ni Juan nga “Kordero sa Dios nga nagawagtang sa sala sa kalibotan.” Ang hulagway sa kordero o nating karnero kanunay natong makita diha sa Balaang Kasulatan. Kasagaran, ang kordero nagpasabot sa usa ka biktima nga ihalad o isakripisyo sa altar. Para sa mga Kristiyanos, si Kristo mao ang bag-ong kordero kang kinsang kinabuhi, lawas ug dugo, gihalad alang sa atong kaluwasan. Ang Santos nga Misa kanunay’ng magpahinumdum kanato sa dakong gugma ug sakripisyo ni Hesus, ang kordero sa Dios. Posted by Abet Uy
(English) What does the name Jesus – the most holy name we honor today? Jesus from the Jewish name Yeshua (Joshua) which means, “The Lord is salvation”. In the gospel, Jesus called John “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The picture of lamb or lamb we often see in the Holy Scriptures. Often, the lamb means of a sacrificial victim or sacrifice on the altar. For Christians, Jesus Christ is the new lamb whose life, flesh and blood, sacrificed for our salvation. Mass always reminds us of the great love and sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God.
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