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1/7/2016 8:02:00 AM
John leads us to Jesus

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland

Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016
The Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Everyone needs affirmation in life. When I was a young woman and decided to work in the Church, I waited anxiously for my parents to tell me that I had made the right decision. Their support saw me through those first years and affirmed my initial decision. I had no idea at the time that my choice was linked to my own faith and not simply my parents’ faith in me.

The situation of the catechumens is similar. During the RCIA process, their faith is affirmed and the bonds of friendship are forged with their sponsors. Eventually, though, the moment comes when the newly baptized must “let go” so that faith can be truly adult. Believers and sponsors who have been through this process know something about what John the Baptist must have felt.

For generations the Jewish community heard about the Lord who was to come. Isaiah assured the people that the “One who would come” would exceed all their expectations. He would be unlike any other they had ever known. For age upon age, the people of God were encouraged to dream no small dreams of the One who would be sent to them. This was the message that John the Baptist proclaimed. Still, it was a message that called for repentance and demanded social justice.

Despite what might have seemed a harsh message John received a good deal of affection and attention during his ministry. Now, though, the Lord was ready to begin his own public ministry and John was challenged to lead his followers to Jesus. He was called to “let go.”

Jesus was surely pleased that John was sending his followers to him but the words he really wanted to hear were “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” And so it is with each of us who pledge to bring the Lord to others. Along the way, our wit, charm, personality or attractiveness might draw others to us. We might be tempted simply to bask in this appreciation; but then the moment comes when we too are challenged to “let go.”

As Christians, we take upon ourselves the obligation to do Christ’s work in the world. We have been given the spirit to bring justice to all humankind. Like the Baptist, we lead others to the Lord who is the One who will bring the light of faith to the blind and free us from the imprisonment of our own personalities.

The time for wallowing in the luxury of the Infant Jesus is over. A task lies before us. Together we promise to “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” through love and service to the community.

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