Christmas, January 2nd

After the Christmas octave end a few days of the Christmas Season follow before the liturgy returns to Ordinary Time with the Baptism of the Lord, the moment in which Jesus begins his public ministry. So in today’s readings we’re catapulted from the events around Jesus’ birth and early childhood to the ministry of John the Baptist, a ministry that immediately preceded Jesus’ public ministry after thirty quiet and private years in Nazareth.

John’s ministry is a preparation for Jesus’, but many people don’t know that yet. John starts to get noticed, so priests and Levites come to see John at Bethany and submit him to a questionnaire regarding what prophecies he was supposed to be fulfilling. It was not a pilgrimage of conversion and faith, just a fact-finding mission. John starts right off by answering the central question: he was not the Christ. So then they start asking him about the other prophecies: Moses said a prophet would come, was it John; other prophets said Elijah would come again, was it John? He was neither, and told them he was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah to prepare a path for the Lord. That’s wasn’t good enough, so the Pharisees come too and ask him why he’s doing Messianic things if he’s not the one. Again John responds that someone greater is coming after him. Ultimately they would have to see for themselves when the moment came: they couldn’t just classify and file away John’s ministry.

The Jews had built up a lot of preconceived notions of how the Savior was going to come and what he was going to do. Some of them never accepted Our Lord as the Lord. We may have the benefit of a community of believers and witnesses, but we too can have preconceived notions of how Christ should be and what he should do. The New Year has begun: let’s prepare the way for Christ this year by fostering openness to whatever he wants to do in our lives, and to how he wishes to reveal himself to us.

Readings: 1 John 2:22–28; Psalm 98:1–4; John 1:19–28.