John the Baptist recognized Jesus when He came toward him. We celebrate John the Baptist because he identified Jesus as the Messiah.
Consider the opportunities we have had to recognize Christ. Jesus presents Himself continuously. The Lord is present in our family, in the people with whom we work, also in the places we least expect. At Christmas we remembered that once upon a time God became incarnate through the Holy Spirit and took flesh from the Blessed Virgin Mary and lived like us. Jesus assumed our human condition in all things except sin. He came to show us how to live, how to love. Jesus revealed His merciful Father who loves us beyond all imagining. At Easter we will remember His Passion, Death and Resurrection. Tempting to think about the Lord only when we need Him. We tend to remember God when we pray. Rarely do we think about God when we are angry, if we are sad or devastated. Even more rarely would we think about God when things are not going our way. On the contrary, we often conclude that God is angry with us or punishing us or maybe taking a break and too busy to pay attention to our prayers. None of those silly assumptions are true. God is always by our side. We not only have a full-time guardian angel, but we also have the Holy Spirit who gives us life—who dwells in our soul. We are wrapped in the reality of the Who God is. We carry in our bodies the Paschal Mystery, even when we are unaware—which is 99% of the time.
Our constant challenge is to become aware of God’s presence—like John the Baptist. That’s the reason that John is great—because he pointed to Jesus Christ. He was the last of the Old Covenant prophets. John paved the way—he prepared the people for the New Covenant. The mentality of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” had to die in order to give birth to the teaching of forgiveness. The Good News of Jesus based on the Commandment of love advocated treating others as we want to be treated. “Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you.” We have issues with the Commandment to the present day. The greatest wars have been fought in the name of Christianity. If we do not have an enemy, we go looking for one. We get into fights. We hold grudges. We want revenge. Jesus does not take sides because He loves everyone. He sees our deficiencies and loves us the way that we are. The Lord does not discriminate.
Since we have problems loving ourselves, we have problems loving others. When people do not meet our expectations, especially our family, we are disappointed. And we forget a basic truth: the only person that we can change is the one we see in the mirror. Issues of control are prevalent in our society. Can we imagine John the Baptist telling Jesus what to do? Who was more important? John recognized that Jesus was greater than he. In humility John baptized Jesus, knowing that Jesus was the Messiah and did not need anything from anybody. Takes humility to surrender to a greater power. Very seldom do we pray, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” We want to be in charge, even when we pray. We dare to tell God what to do; thinking that we know better. Of course, God knows better. Although He loves to listen to our prayers, He also knows what is best. Can we surrender? Can we imitate John the Baptist and declare that Jesus is greater than all of us put together? Takes humility, courage, trust. John had to move out of the way. We often get in the way. Childlike confidence is required for spiritual maturity. Means that we must leave our agendas at the door. If our cup is full, the Lord cannot fill us with His love. If we empty ourselves, we can get out of the way.
Like John the Baptist we want to recognize Christ. He is here and receives us with open arms in the Blessed Sacrament.