Synaxis of the John the Baptist
From what we have heard in today’s Gospel, we see how simply and humbly John the Baptist tells the people that Jesus is the Son of God, the one that humanity has waited countless centuries for as its Savior.
“I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Holy Spirit descending and remaining on Him, this is He’…And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (Verses 33-34).
Clearly, John the Baptist does not present himself as a great person, but in humility speaks to others about what he has heard and seen. And in truth, he was no ordinary person. The angel of the Lord had announced to his father Zacharias that his child to be born: “he will be great in the sight of the Lord….He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:15). Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself will later say, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11). And in the Jordan River, as we saw yesterday on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jesus particularly honored John and gave Himself to be baptized by him.
So while John was so honored and exalted by God, he remained a humble servant of God and was not influenced by the importance of these events. The world was all about his way of life and focused on the wonderful things he did. Some even thought he was the Christ, the Messiah! But John answered them all and said, “One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose” (Luke 3:16).
And so John the Baptist stands before us, from the first Sunday of the New Year, as a wonderful example to be imitated.
First, in how we should talk to others about the Savior Christ. We can share from our personal experience our relationship with Christ, revealing what has moved us to believe Him, and love Him like no other in the world. We can also show what it is that draws us every Sunday to want to rush to His Home, His Temple, to meet Him, and worship Him. Let us open our hearts; trust Him in our lives.
And secondly, to have John the Baptist be a model in our behavior towards our brothers and sisters. We do not want to dominate or claim ourselves superior. We should seek to act humbly towards others and give them the proper honor, as John the Baptist did. This is what the Apostle Paul recommends: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3). “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (verse 5) “who, being in the form of God” (verse 6) “took the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men” (verse 7). As we know, Jesus greatly humbled himself and washed His disciples’ feet too!
My brothers and sisters, if we behave in humility with others, our testimony of the true God will touch their souls; we will have peaceful relations with people and will be honored by our Lord. Christ Himself assured us: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12) to the heavenly Kingdom of God. Amen.