That is, in spite of the fact that I find him most appealing.
He has that rogue contrarian eccentricity about him that I find compelling.
Everyone knows somebody in their family who is like that. Someone who is a non-conformist. Who speaks their mind, who is unconventional.
John surely fits that bill.
His parents were alerted both before and after his birth that he was special, and that he had a special place in the future of the Jewish people. Read Luke’s early chapters if you have any doubt.
He was “different” from day one.
And, in most of the scriptures, he was quick to recognize Jesus as the one for whom he had come. There is little doubt of that either.
In today’s Gospel, he merely says, “Behold, the lamb of God,” and Andrew, son of Peter, follows without question. John’s voice is powerful, his announcement carries weight. It is no different from in other parts of Luke and Matthew. John knows Jesus for who he is, and proclaims him without question or hesitation.
That is until later in Luke when John sends two of his disciples to Jesus to inquire: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to expect someone else?” (Lk 7:19).
What? Is John now confused?
Or is John simply mirroring us?
We all, somewhere along the line of our faith journey, create a vision of who this Jesus is. We define him and his mission. We are assisted or hindered in that creation by a plethora of others, mostly well-meaning if often horribly wrong. They tell us who Jesus was and is for us today. To hear some, he was against socialism and unions, and for self-reliance. It gets a bit confusing.
But, in the end, we are left with this mosaic of Jesus, compiled, erroneously or not, in part or in full, of all of our learnings and experiences.
Is it any wonder that we wonder sometimes? “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to expect someone else?”
John, it seems to me, was reflective of this.
He had notions of who Jesus was supposed to be, and however that was, certain reports must have come to him about the Lord that were not what he expected. And so he began to doubt.
This man whom I touted as THE one, the one I sent others to, perhaps, just perhaps, I was wrong. Perhaps this Jesus is not the one my parents told me I was to herald.
So too do we wonder. Not so much about whether “this is the one” as whether we have a clue who this One is.
From time to time, he acts not at all like we would wish or expect. We are called upon to rethink the whole thing.
And as we do so, it seems to me, that most of the time we are called upon to let go of our self-serving definitions and explanations. We find that this savior is not an easy man to know or to follow. He demands of us a good deal more than we expect, and in ways wholly different from we thought.
And yet, or so it seems to me, we find this savior more worthy of following as we chip away our self-imposed lacquer. We find Him radically different from we had supposed, and we are again and again stunned with the brilliance of his light. If anything we find Him more compelling, rather than less as we discard the childish simple veneer we have so simplistically applied to Him.
One wonders what John thought as he discovered, if he did, that his vision of Jesus was quite different from the reality of the Lord.
- Today’s Homily – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (2012) (frstephensmuts.wordpress.com)
- 2nd Sunday – B (johnmsfs.wordpress.com)
- John the Baptist on Leadership (markvanstraaten.wordpress.com)
- Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (andrewdoohan.wordpress.com)
- John the Baptist and His Doubt, Part 1: By Dr.John MacArthur (chaplaingary.wordpress.com)