Christmas, January 4th

In today’s Gospel we see that John the Baptist’s knows his part of the mission is concluding, since he has testified to the Son of God and baptized him. His mission is fulfilled because he has pointed the way to the reason for which the Lord called him to be a prophet: to prepare the way for Our Lord. He doesn’t point to himself, nor did he ever; today he points to Our Lord and two of his disciples not only begin to follow Our Lord, but introduce him to Simon Peter as well. These three disciples will become Our Lord’s apostles, sent out to the whole world to bring others to him.

In today’s First Reading John the Evangelist explains that when we are baptized (“begotten”) we take sides (and if you were baptized as a baby, your parents helped you take the right side: the winning one). We can choose the side of the Lord and his righteousness (a life of grace), or we can side with the Devil in rebellion and iniquity (a life of sin). In this struggle you must take a side. Both Johns remind us who the winner is: Our Lord, who by coming as the Lamb of God not only comes to take away the sins of the world, but to destroy the works of the Devil and reveal what keeps us faithful to God: a life not given over to sin.

Let’s look upon the Lamb of God today and ask him to show us what side we’re on. We can change sides, for better or for worse.

Readings: 1 John 3:7–10; Psalm 98:1, 7–9; John 1:35–42.

Christmas, January 3rd

In today’s First Reading John the Evangelist describes our justification, the grace we receive at Baptism, as “righteousness.” Without that first unmerited grace of baptism all our other acts of righteousness would not be possible: through that grace our sins are taken away. Our fundamental understanding of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity is that he is the Son, begotten, not made, by the Father. God wants us to be his sons and daughters as well, and we become his children through baptism, the start of a new life of grace, a new life meant to grow and become more and more beautiful because we grow to be more and more like God, modeling our lives after God the Son’s.

In today’s Gospel John the Baptist has a moment like he did thirty years earlier, in his mother’s womb, when Mary came (with Jesus in her womb) to visit  Elizabeth and John. John leaped in his mother’s womb, but now, thirty years later, he can point to Jesus and testify he is the Lamb of God. Unlike the other evangelists, John speaks of what John the Baptist experienced upon baptizing Our Lord, not the baptism itself. Through the descent of the Spirit at Baptism John the Baptist recognized Jesus as the Son of God, and we see the connection between baptism and becoming children of God.

The Spirit also descended upon us at our baptism, ushering in a new life. Let’s thank Our Lord today for the gift of that new life by modelling our lives more and more like his.

Readings: 1 John 2:29–3:6; Psalm 98:1, 3cd–6; John 1:29–34.