God has saved the world and everyone in it in his own self, Jesus, the light and the truth of what it means to be human. What condemns us is whether or not we are human, whether we are about living the fulness of life, ensuring that others live that life also, or whether we prefer to shun the light and do evil and harm to others.
– Megan McKenna “We Live Inside a Story” p. 125
The readings for the Third Sunday of Advent (John 1:6-8, 19-28) can be found here.
The reading this Sunday pulls a snippet from John’s Gospel prologue where the baptizing John is clearly defined as a witness who testifies to the light and not the anticipated savior of the Jewish people. Then the reading jumps to the beginning of the “Book of Signs” where Jesus will gather His disciples.
To fully understand the witness of the baptizing John we need to go beyond this Sunday’s verses to the events that follow. If we read further we will see that John will identify Jesus as the “Lamb of God” and then send his own disciples to Jesus. He humbly gives everything to Jesus.
The baptizing John had a specific role to play. Though he baptizes many people in the Jordan river he will not baptize Jesus. The role of this baptizing John is to bear witness only.
When the first group of Jewish leaders pressed John for an answer to the question of his identity, the Gospel writer put modified words from Isaiah 40:3 on his lips. In John’s Gospel there is no mention of preparing a way for the Lord. The man named John who is sent by God is simply to testify to the light.
What is the point of all this, we may wonder? Simply put, Jesus is everything that baptizing John is not.
Jesus was the word of God spoken to the world. The bearer of the word and the word itself must be seen as one. It is interesting to note that the word logos is never used again in this gospel after the prologue. It was, however, lived, and it is to the living of that word in the life of Jesus to which the prologue points.
– John Shelby Spong “The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic” p. 61
The Jewish leaders had Jesus in their midst and did not recognize Him as the word of God. Our focus this Sunday is to take the example of the man named John, who was sent by God, by recognizing Jesus and humbly testifying to the light.
We are being asked to live our lives in testimony to the life of Jesus, and to examine our lives this Advent to see if our actions make straight the way of the Lord.
If you take one thing away from this homily, understand that Jesus is in our midst and our lives are a reflection of how well we grasp this fact. We can model our lives upon the witness of baptizing John or those Jewish leaders.
We are human, so there will be times when our actions fail to testify to the true light, but forgiveness comes after repentance.
If we need to make a change, now is the time because our community depends on it. Dr. Roger Ray explains that the “Jesus story is real, and every time we tell it, we bring good news to the poor, we bring hope to those in despair, we shine a light in dark places, promising justice to the oppressed, the refugee, the homeless and the unemployed.”
I pray that this Advent finds you as a living testimony to the true light of Christ.