Hearing the same story from different writers is always illuminating as we can see from this week’s account from John’s Gospel of the baptism of Jesus.
Even after reading, praying and rereading this account in preparation for the entry to the parish newsletter, I was still taken aback by the first two words proclaimed by our priest:
‘Seeing Jesus…’ my concentration lost and my mind quickly jumping from thought to thought, I tried to bring myself back to the present and catch up with the words of the Gospel.
‘I did not know Him…’ whoa, what? My mind took off again – but you saw Him, He is your cousin, you leapt in the womb at the Visitation, you know He is greater than you, that He will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire. You claim you are not worthy to carry His sandals and yet you do not know Him?
Throughout the rest of Mass these two phrases began to merge together in a way that they had not previously, despite all my working with the text during the week.
How often do I see Jesus in my day? He is there of course in every encounter, every person, every tweeter and face book poster. Yet how easy it is to forget, to my shame it is often not His presence that influences the way I respond to others.
It is easier for me to recognise Jesus in the homeless man that sits outside my local supermarket or those I say hello to on my walk to the station. It is easier to see Jesus in the charity appeals for the poor, the refugee, the sick and the prisoner.
But in all honesty, it is more difficult to remember to see Jesus in those who I know and know well and although I have no idea why it might have something to do with familiarity and sameness. Most of us are friends with those who hold similar values and ideas as ourselves. The Jesus I once saw in them has become comfortable and no longer challenges me to go deeper. Might it be that for me familiarity really has bred contempt?
John the Baptist saw Jesus but also declared ‘I do not know Him’. The more I ponder these words, the more I realise the truth of them. I too see Jesus yet do I know him? Of course one can never fully know the second person of the Trinity, the son of God fully human and fully Divine while on earth. But that must not prevent me from getting to know Him and recognise Him as our personal Lord and Saviour. He calls us into relationship, and we all know that no nourishing relationship is static.
The more I believe I know Jesus, the less I realise I know Him, and that, of course, is the reality of Mystery.
I want to rekindle my desire for the Lord, to want to know Him more. And for that I need to sharpen my focus to better see Jesus, to spend time with Scripture to better know Jesus, and pray (as I can not as I can’t) to better deepen my relationship with Jesus.
Twice we hear John the Baptist say ‘I did not know Him …’
Where are you surprised by what you know and do not know about Jesus?
How does this enable you to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ?
Where are you aware of the presence of the Spirit at work in your life this week?
What do you know about your friends?
How do you get to know them?
Do you ever think of Jesus as your friend?
How can you get to know Him better this week?
Today is Peace Sunday. Find out about
Pax Christi and see if there is any way you can become
involved in their work http://paxchristi.org.uk