Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 3, 2012

Today’s gospel reading:

John 1:29-34

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

Reflections on the gospel reading: In all four gospels, John the Baptist plays a role in Jesus’ identification as the Son of God. In the three synoptic accounts, that identification is part of John’s baptizing of Jesus, but here in John’s account, there is no mention of John baptizing Jesus. In the three synoptic accounts, the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God appears to be an experience that Jesus has, and the texts are ambiguous about whether anyone else perceives the revelation. Here, the text clearly suggests the Baptist has an insight into Jesus’ identity that dawns upon him in a flash of recognition. Whether the identification of Jesus as the Son of God is part of Jesus’ baptism, occurs in this second context, or occurs for different persons at different time, the text does not make clear to us. But the scriptures here and elsewhere bring up a common experience among people who encountered Jesus. In Luke’s gospel, for instance, we read of Simeon and Anna looking on the infant Jesus and knowing the child was the promised one of Israel. Here, John looks upon Jesus and instantly understands there is something astonishing in this man. Indeed, over and over again in the gospel accounts, we find evidence that people who encounter Jesus are incredibly impressed by him, that some characteristic or characteristics in him set him apart, that something about him made people sit up and take notice.

In our own lives, I suspect, if we are available to the experience, we too have had encounters with the Lord that make us sit bolt upright, that suddenly strike us and rivet our attention, that inspire within us a sense of wonder and awe. Our faith tells us that Jesus is near us today: let us prepare ourselves, yes: paradoxically prepare ourselves, to be surprised today by the wonder of him. If we trust that we shall encounter him, he will not disappoint us. We only need to look if we are to see and recognize him.

Saint of the day: Born in 1805 in India, Kuriakose Elias Chavara entered the seminary in 1818 and was ordained in 1829. He was a co-founder and first prior-general of the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. The main work of the Congregation is the intellectual, social, economic, moral and spiritual education of people, especially women and children; it works today in eight countries with almost 5,000 members. He made his religious profession in the Congregation in 1855. Vicar-general for the Syro-Malabar church in 1861, he defended ecclesial unity against the threat of schism by the consecration of Nestorian bishops in his area. He worked to renew the faith in Malabar. He co-founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Mother of Carmel in 1866. A man of prayer, he had special devotion to the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary. He died January 3, 1871 at Koonammuva, India of natural causes.

Spiritual reading of the day: I firmly believe that our salvation depends on the poor. (Dorothy Day)

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