Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1:46-50, 53-54 (with Isaiah 61:10b)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,'”
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.
Good News Reflection:
This Sunday’s Gospel reading tells us that John the Baptist came to “testify to the light.” What does this mean?
We know that Jesus is the Light of Truth that shines in the darkness to draw us to eternal life. And we know that his Spirit enlightens us in the truth so that we can be saved from the destructive forces of our sins and follow our Savior to heaven. But what was the testimony given by John? How did he testify to the light? And how does this affect our lives today?
John’s testimony was: “I am not the Christ. I am a voice. A voice in the wilderness. A voice in the desert.” And his testimony brings us to the Light of Christ by challenging us with: “Where is your life arid and dry? Listen! Christ is coming to meet you there! Make a bee-line to him! Stop wandering around! Repent, change, do whatever is necessary to look for Jesus so that you can find him. He is coming to you!”
We’ve all experienced times when Jesus seems distant, unavailable, not present to us when we need him. What has opened your eyes to his presence? Whose voice has turned you back to God? It’s time to do the same for others, to bring glad tidings to the poor (as it says in the reading from Isaiah), to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those who are held captive in their sins, and to announce how to be blessed by a close friendship with the Lord.
We all have the same testimony and the same calling as John had: We are all supposed to be voices crying out loud enough to be heard above the din of the world. Many souls are lost in the wilderness of confusion, hopelessness, pain, heartache, and despair, not to mention sinfulness. Can we rightfully ignore their needs? Is it loving to be so quiet that they cannot hear the truth? Certainly not! Someday we will have to explain to Jesus why we ignored our baptismal calling to be the voice that could have helped others find him.
What kind of a voice do you have? Because we have Christ within us, our very lives are the voice. How we handle trials, revealing our faith in Jesus, is a voice that’s audible to those who are lost in the wilderness. The more peace we have and the more love that we give, the louder is our cry.
Even if our vocal chords do not utter a single word, the way we live in the light is how we speak the truth of the light. The better we live the truth, the louder and clearer is our message.
What people choose to do with our message is up to them, but it’s up to us to speak it so that they’re given that choice.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
How has your life been changed by your faith in Jesus? What evil has been conquered, what darkness has been overcome? This is your testimony! Write a couple of pages about it to become more familiar with it. This will prepare you so that you can explain it to others when they ask you why you have faith..
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
How has the Spirit of the Lord anointed you? What gifts do you have that enable you to give to the poor (i.e., the financially poor or the emotionally starving or the spiritually hungry) or to heal the brokenhearted? How has God used you to provide liberty to captives and release to prisoners? How are these a testimony that teach others about Jesus?
Beloved Father, I humbly ask for the grace to be a witness of Your light. I yearn to be Your witness and to take Your presence wherever You want to send me! Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica