SUNDAY REFLECTION - Sunday, December 10th, 2017
PEOPLE OF HOPE
John 1:19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’”
as the prophet Isaiah said.
John 1:24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
The church urgently needs witnesses to Jesus, delivers who are more like him, Christians who, by their way of being and living, make beef in Christ easier. We need witnesses who speak of God as Jesus spoke, who communicate his message of compassion as he did, who will inspire test in the Father as he did.
José A. Pagola
The gospel stories of John the Baptist paint a portrait of a remarkable person but they also create an image of a society in which many people were unhappy, dissatisfied with their lives – and dissatisfied with their leaders. They lived in a wilderness and were ready to listen to a person with a vision of how things could be different. With his call to “Repent”, he was not just asking them to be sorry for past wrongs, but to change their ways for the future. He was telling them that if they wanted the times to be better, that had to start with themselves. It was an uncomfortable message. Despite that, crowds came out to listen to him and signified their willingness to give up destructive ways of living by being baptised by John in the Jordan. Change and conversion is a decision for each individual
Centuries later, St. Augustine would issue a similar challenge in one of his sermons:
“Bad times! Troublesome times! This is what people are saying.
Let our lives be good and the times will be good for we make our own times.
Such as we are, such are our times.
What can we do?
Maybe we cannot convert masses of people to a good life,
but let the few who hear live well.” (St. Augustine Sermon 30.8)
Earlier this year, on his visit to Columbia, Pope Francis also stressed how important it is for each person to accept the responsibility of making a contribution to change the wrongs in society. He was speaking where the legacy of a bitter 50-year long civil war had left a country deeply divided. Opposing factions are deeply distrustful of one another. His aim was to promote reconciliation and the motto for the visit was “Take the first step”.
"Reconciliation is not an abstract word," Francis told the crowds, many who had survived such awful violence. "Reconciliation means opening a door to every person who has experienced the tragic reality of conflict. What is needed is for some to courageously take the first step in that direction, without waiting for others to do so. We need only one good person to have hope! And each of us can be that person!"
There is much in our world today that is not as it should be. Bad times and troublesome times they certainly are. The call to prepare a way for the Lord is still relevant. Is there some way in which we might take the first step to improve something in our world, or in our neighbourhood?
John Byrne (Paulist Press)