Podcast Reflections

Reflection on John 1.19-28 (9th Day of Christmas, 2 January)

Listen to a reflection for the Ninth Day of Christmas, 2 January, on John 1.19-28

John 1.19-28 

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ 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.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. 


Then they said to him: ‘Who are you?’

How often are we asked about our faith? How often are we asked whether we believe in God, or whether we go to Church? For some these questions occur quite frequently, for others they are never asked. Whether questions of faith crop up regularly, or not at all, should be a matter upon which we should reflect.

If we are never asked about our faith, perhaps we should pause and ask why that might be? Is it because we live out our lives in a way that suggests we have no faith? Is it because we rarely display those characteristics that people believe lie at the heart of the Christian faith … selfless love and service? If, on the other hand, we are asked about our faith, even on an occasional basis, we should ask ourselves whether it is because we have shown a glimmer of the Christian life but without ever acknowledging that we are guided and strengthened by Jesus?

In today’s reading priests and Levites were sent to ask John: Who are you? John had fulfilled his destiny to be the forerunner of the Messiah by proclaiming a message of repentance and by offering a ministry of baptism for the forgiveness of sins. John had been creating quite a stir. Many people had travelled into the wilderness to hear his words and to receive the baptism he offered. John’s words and actions stood out, and it led the religious authorities to ask the question: Who are you?

At no point did John make any claim of ‘greatness’ on his own behalf. John’s role was as a messenger of God, a prophet. Indeed, in response to the questions of the Pharisees, he said: Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal. John’s faith and humility rang out loud and clear. John was a messenger in the wilderness, a messenger crying out: Make straight the way of the Lord.

As we journey further into the new year, our reading for today reminds us of our call to live out our faith in a way that leads others into the joy of knowing, loving and serving Jesus Christ. We are called and challenged to live our lives in a way that means no one ever has to ask those questions about our faith, because the answer is obvious to all!