Faith & Service
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Please note: All Gospels come from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
The Testimony of John the BaptistThis 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,[b] 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.
Rev. Mr. Drew Olson
Saint Joe Alum, Class of 2007
Transitional Deacon in the Diocese of Madison
Seminarian at the Pontifical North American College in Rome
John the Evangelist reveals to us this week the importance of John the Baptist as a mediator. The idea of mediation between us and Jesus can sometimes put a bad taste in our mouths, and Catholics are often criticized for our use of many forms of mediation, be it symbols, people, saints, or gestures. Yes, Christ is the one, true Mediator between God and man, but other small "m" mediators help us to remain in contact with the spiritual realm that we cannot see.
Light provides a good example of the need for mediation. We hear in the Gospel, that John the Baptist came, "to testify to the light so that all might believe through him." John did not come to take the place of Christ, or to distract people from his coming, in fact, he admits that he is not the Messiah. Rather, he came to show us, Jesus, like a lens through which light passes. In a similar way, during the eclipse this year, it was impossible to see the phenomenon without glasses; if one tried it would have resulted in blindness. So it is with the glory of God and pure love of Christ. It is so good and so overwhelming that we require means of mediation to enjoy it here on earth.
This is why we have so much symbolism in the Mass, why priests wear particular clothing, and why we as Catholics emphasize specific actions and rites. Christ has come and redeemed us from our sin, but until he comes again, or we join him in heaven, we will continue to need mediators like John the Baptist, bishops, priests, and holy men and women to show us the light, point out Christ to us, and help us, in our own lives, to make straight the way of the Lord.