In the Northern Hemisphere, we have passed this point on the day of the winter solstice, where darkness and light compete for prominence in our daily lives, January is supposed to be the gradual renewal of longer light: but as so often happens in life, the reality of more light is not quite what we experience, instead, our weather seems to take a perverse delight in confounding that hope, the days are gray, the rain pours, the wind is bitter and biting, and the ever-present threat of snow and ice is never far away.
I can’t speak for those on the other side of the world, but everyone can empathize with the effects of weather and light on our mood. I find January a difficult month as I am a SAD responder, it’s hard to balance these days and I wish and pray for more light, more sunshine. One secret wish is that enough of us could clamor for some kind of festival of light during this month, culminating in the celebration known as Candlemas Day on the second of February, just as Christmas is a religious holiday with deeper roots than Christianity, so it might be fitting . !
Therefore, with a certain degree of hope, the Gospel of this Sunday turns on, so to speak, the ministry of John the Baptist, and if we decide to participate in his calling, it is also our task, and that is to be a herald of the Light. We have to put this passage in its context, it comes shortly after that great elegy in John 1:1-18 about Christ as the Word made flesh and as Light. John the Evangelist writes about John the Baptist: ‘A man named John was sent from God. He came for a testimony AA, to bear witness to the light’s, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:6-9) It is with this illumination that we must read and understand our knowledge of the testimony of John the Baptist. So when we encounter the difficult sentence in our passage: “I did not know him” (vv 31 and 33), we can easily be confused – why does John clearly say that he did not know Jesus? How can this happen when, as they say in children’s stories, there is a connection between them?
The easiest way to approach this is to ignore the childhood narratives in this particular case, as there is much scholarly debate as to whether they appeared first in the original Gospel texts, instead we must do as the Gospel writer John does, focus to the “significance” of Christ appearing among us and revealing his Light and Salvation, which we are then called to experience. For us, Christ is always His passion, death and resurrection, these can never be fully isolated from his service and meaning for us, because it is in this sure and certain hope of forgiveness of sins and resurrection to eternal life that he moves us. further on our journey of searching, longing and discovering the deeper meaning of our life and forcing us to believe and find in Him the answer we have been unconsciously searching for all our lives. John tells us about his own ministry:
“I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Make straight the way of the Lord,”
as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:23)
He is not only the baptizer, but also the one who reveals Jesus to the world that does not know the Messiah, and this is what John means when he says “I did not know him”, because it is only when the voice and the Spirit Appear at the baptism of Jesus, that the true confirmation of what John gave his life to is shown in the Word and Light experienced in the humble person of Jesus. You can all understand how John felt because many of us have great fellowship with others, even family members, but at some point you realize we’ve never really gotten to know who they are, suddenly we’re surprised to see something more in them . , the bigger picture, the reality that we were blind to until that moment – when something new appeared. I use this image of light and sight, not outer vision, but inner vision of the mind and heart, part of the gift of the Spirit that enables us to penetrate the hearts of others in a good and non-intrusive way.
To conclude our reflection, I suggest that what we might take as a point of reflection this week is not only our calling to be like John who reveals the Light and truth in Christ, but also to seek Him in our own lives. Where is the Lamb of God for us? Where is the one who takes away our sin? He is here and there, he can be found, but our task, our calling, is not to do it only for aa ourselves, but when we have met Him, to lead others into the orbit of His loves.
St. Augustine gives us his experience with the Lord to help us understand how we can also meet the holy Christ, and I leave all of us with these words from the Confession as a way of understanding:
“Late have I loved thee, O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved thee! Thou wast within me, but I was without, and there I sought thee. In my unlove I plunged into beautiful things.” which you created You were with me, but I wasn’t with you. Created things kept me from you, but if they weren’t in you, they wouldn’t be at all. You called, you shouted and you broke my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I breathed in and now I was panting for you. I’ve tasted you, now I’m hungry and thirsty for more. You touched me and I burned for your peace.”
Amen, may it be so for us too!
Homily of Saint John Chrysostom
“And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. And I did not know him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me: On whom you will see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I saw and bore witness that this is the Son of God.”
He repeatedly puts “I didn’t know him”. For what reason and why? He was His relative according to the flesh. “Look,” says the angel, “your cousin Elizabeth has also given birth to a son.” (Luke i. 36.) So that he might not appear to be inclined to Him on account of relation, he repeats, “I knew him not.” And this happened for a good reason; for he spent all his time in the wilderness away from his father’s house.
How, then, when he did not know him before the descent of the Spirit, and when he then first knew him, he forbade him before baptism, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matt. iii. 14), for it was a proof, that he knew Him very well. Yet he had not known Him before, nor for a long time, and with good reason; for the miracles which happened when he was yet a child, like the circumstances of the wise men and others like them, happened long before, while John himself was very young, and for since much time had elapsed, naturally no one knew about him. Everything. For if he had been known, John would not have said, “That he may appear to Israel, therefore I come to baptize.”
For “He that sent me to baptize with water,” and sent me for this purpose “that he might be revealed to Israel,” had himself revealed him before the descent of the Spirit. Therefore, even before he came, John said: “After me comes he who is preferred before me.” He did not know Him until he came to the Jordan and baptized all the people, but when he was about to be baptized, he knew Him; and that from the Father, who revealed Him to the Prophet, and the Spirit, who showed Him when He was baptized to the Jews, for whose sake the Spirit indeed descended. For not to despise the testimony of John, who said that he “was before me” and that he “baptizes with the Spirit” and that he “judges the world,” the Father utters the Voice announcing the Son, and the Spirit descends and directs that Voice to the Head of Jesus. Because one was baptizing and the other was baptizing, the Spirit comes to correct the idea some of those present may have formed that the words were spoken of John. So when he says, “I did not know Him,” he is talking about an earlier time, not so close to His baptism. How else could He forbid Him when He said, “I need to be baptized by you”? How could he say such words about Him?