|by Angela Lambert|
January 15th, 2017; Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Gospel John 1:29-34 NAB
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
How did John recognize Jesus as his Savior? He prayed, waited, and listened.
Accustomed to instant gratification and the fast pace of life, together with a heavily marketed atmosphere, we can easily develop a tendency to expect Christ to sell Himself to us and to make His pitch with immediate persuasion. Whether we question God’s existence, His nearness, or His willingness to help us, we often complain that God is silent or distant. Yet, we have to honestly ask ourselves, have we even asked God for His help? Have we waited on the Lord, or are we expecting an immediate result? Have we been receptive to the Lord’s prompting, or do we attempt to lead God, deaf to His guidance?
John the Baptist sought the Lord, venturing into the desert where he could encounter God away from the distractions of everyday life. He waited on God, fully expecting an answer by spending his time preparing through preaching repentance and baptizing. When the Savior came at last, John could receive Him and recognize Him as Lord because he was looking and listening.
It reminds me a little of family road trips. The kid engrossed in his iPhone or tablet misses extraordinary sights, or at the very least, out of the ordinary landscapes. The person vigilantly watching out the window however, can take in the beauty, appreciate the landscape, and spot the surprise spectacles. By the time he has shouted “look!” and the distracted child responds, the sight has passed. Moreover, at the end of the journey, the one focused on the tablet retains the same vision of the world as when he left home, whereas the one who looked out the window broadened his vision and experience.
If we feel like God is distant, we need simply to look out the window and reach out to Him in prayer. If we require His help, we need only to ask and listen. When we look for the Savior, we find Him. God does His part, and more. We need to make the effort to look up from our commonplace experience and distractions and seek Him.
Psalm 40 begins by singing, “I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.” What a beautiful expression. God has seen our suffering and heard our pleas. He stooped to become man and dwell among us, personally healing and strengthening us. When a person experiences the saving love of Christ, they cannot resist proclaiming it to others. Like the child shouting “look!”, they instinctively cry out “look!” as well; or as John proclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God”.
Everyone seeks happiness, security, and love. We can search for all these things online, in our careers, or the economy, but only Christ can deliver on His promises. Archbishop Fulton Sheen described John the Baptist as “no frivolous reed shaken by every breath of popular applause.” When we seek approval from others or from cultural standards, we become weak like a reed. We sway at every idea, comment, or attack and easily break. Firmness of character and security of happiness can be found in Jesus Christ alone, who can provide peace and rewards of a supernatural level. It is the Lord, who provides Faith, Hope, and Love. It is His Holy Spirit who infuses us with His sevenfold gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Piety, Fortitude, and Fear of the Lord. If we desire the Spirit’s fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, we need merely to invite the Lord into our soul to dwell, and be receptive to the transformation He effects.
At the same time, to realize our need for a Savior, we must also acknowledge the reality of our sinfulness. The first step to seeking the Lord is to grapple with our need for Him and our own insufficiency. Sheen pointed out that, “Skepticism is never certain of itself, being less a firm intellectual position than a pose to justify bad behavior.” Some who seem to seek God, actually hide behind their questions in order to avoid moral change. Those who see the ugliness of their own sin look out the window, and run to the water to be cleansed. They recognize the savior because they receive His grace and enjoy the beauty of His restoration. They can proclaim with John, “Now I have seen, and testify that He is the Son of God.” If you want to find out for yourself, respond to Christ’s invitation to “come and see” (Jn 1:39). You might just see something incredible!
- Where can you go to encounter the Lord?
- In a quiet place in your home for prayer? At Church or Eucharistic adoration? In the Scriptures? In reading about the lives of the saints? In visiting with a prayerful friend? Taking time for prayer retreats? By listening to Christian radio in the car.
- How do you sometimes approach the road trip of life more like the child distracted by a tablet, rather than the child looking out the window?
- If you were to go out to the desert to see John the Baptist, what do you imagine it would be like? Would you want to receive the baptism of repentance? For what would he call you to change in your life?
- When has Christ “stooped toward you and heard your cry?” Did it fill you with peace and joy? Did you want to tell others?
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Watch, wait, and listen to the Lord this week by setting aside 5 minutes each day to seek Him out in prayer, Scripture, or even Christian radio.
~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2017
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