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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
The baptism of John was totally different from the baptism of Jesus. John explains the difference this way: “I baptize you with water to show that you have repented, but the one who will come after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 3:11). John’s baptism was simply a sign of repentance. Jesus’ baptism was a sacrament of rebirth. John’s baptism signified the rejection of an old life of sin. Jesus’ baptism signified the reception of a new life of grace: the incredible life of the risen Jesus.
How well am I nurturing my new life?
When the Church baptizes a child, that action concerns me, for the child is thereby connected to that which is my head, too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. – John Donne
—Excerpted from Action, by Fr. Mark Link, S.J. ©2000 RCL Enterprises, Inc., Allen TX. For more prayer resources from Fr. Link, please visit www.staygreat.com
Lord, whenever we cross the line between being helpful and caring to assuming ultimate responsibility for those who refuse to accept accountability for themselves, we fail to emulate John the Baptist. He knew who he was, and who he was not. There is only one Messiah though at times we assume that “messianic” role with family and friends. Give us the grace to lean on you when those we love falter in their responsibility. Guide us to know when to hold on and when to let go. And grant us the resolve to encourage the other’s best by not rewarding or enabling negative behavior.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team