A popular TV game show back in the 50s and 60s was “What’s My Line”. A person would sign in—the audience would know the identity, but not the panel. If the person was famous the panel would ware a blindfold. By questioning the guest the panel would try to figure out the identity of the guest.
Imagine John the Baptist as a guest celebrity on “What’s My Line”. A blindfold would have been necessary because the camel’s hair, the leather belt and grasshoppers in his teeth would have given him away. The studio was air-conditioned, so the pungent smell would have been disguised or at least redirected. John Charles Daly would have introduced the mystery guest, which only the audience could see as he signed in. Then the questions would have started by Dorothy Kilgallen: “Do you work indoors?” “No”, John would have answered. Arleen Francis might have asked, “Have we read about you somewhere?” John could have said, “Yes, if you’ve read the Bible.” Bennett Cerz would have ventured a guess, “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No” “How about Elijah?” “no” Back to Dorothy Kilgallen who asked, “What do you do have to say for yourself?” “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord”. Then all the panel would have said, “John the Baptist”. Of course he was the voice of one, no one else would have dared to challenge the establishment. That’s why the priests and the Levites were sent to ask John what he was doing because the Synagogues were empty. The local clergy was loosing business since John was preaching repentance, forgiveness, preparation for the Messiah. While they were preaching the same old, same old. John was passionate about his message. He knew how to make people aware of their strength and the need to repent of the wrong they had done. What really caught their attention was that he was not afraid of the authorities. He spoke the truth, regardless of public opinion.
Everybody’s afraid of public opinion. Will people still like me? What are people going to think? Remember that opinions are like belly buttons, everybody’s got one. John didn’t take a survey to see if folks were happy with his message or not. “Was the water hot or too cold? Did I get you too wet?” John wanted to cause an internal change. He had little if any regard for the external or what folks thought about him, because his mission was to point to Jesus, he had no other purpose.
Think how different our world would be if each of us was like John the Baptist—with our one an only purpose to point to Jesus. That’s why our Mother Church puts this Gospel right before Christmas, because so many have lost the sense of purpose. Lots of folks don’t know who they are. Depression is at an all time high, especially around this season. If we can’t have what we want; if the people we were expecting aren’t coming; because a loved one just died—the reasons can be many and some are serious. However, nothing justifies loosing the focus—loosing ourselves. The madness can be distracting. Who are we? Why do we do what we do? Just like John, our vocation is to point to Jesus Christ. Just so happens that His birthday is coming up. Yet, in essence, He needs to be our focus every day of the year, not just on Christmas. Jesus gives us our identity—our reason for living. So if we are asked, “Who are you?” “From where do you come?” We come from Christ, we belong to Christ. We want to look like Him, act like Him, be like Him. We can deal with any obstacle when we have the armor of Christ.
That’s all that John was trying to get the people to realize. He is the light and we are nothing without Him.