Monday 02 January 2023 – Make straight the way of the Lord

Monday Before Epiphany   

1st Reading: 1Jn 2:22-28

Beloved: Who is the liar?  Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well. Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you.  If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life. I write you these things about those who would deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him. And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming.

Gospel: Jn 1:19-28    

This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?”  He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?”  And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?”  He answered, “No.”  So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Make straight the way of the Lord: No doubt, the lifestyle and testimony of John the Baptist did not only gain him many followers but also attracted the attention of the authorities of his day who sent delegates to inquire about his identity. To their question, Who are you? John defines himself with reference to the Christ. John is only “the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (cf. Isaiah 40:3).  Just as a voice, once heard, and transmits the message, gently fizzles out, John announces the long-awaited good news of the arrival of the messiah. His is a message of hope for those able to understand it, but also one that demands conversion. Every Christian is called daily not only to a personal preparation to receive Christ but also to help others by awakening their hope and helping them see the need to intensify the process of conversion.

Prayer: Lord, you call us to be heralds of your Son; grant us your grace to announce with our life and words, the presence of Christ in our midst. Amen


RECOGNISE YOUR IDENTITY: When quizzed about his identity John answers all their questions in the negative, and then he identifies himself only as “a voice.” It doesn’t call attention to itself but to something else. The world says you must call attention to yourself and become famous – a celebrity if possible. But in the spiritual realm the ideal is to become invisible! The images that Jesus used, tell the same story: salt, yeast, grain, light…. He has had countless un-famous disciples, beginning even with some of the apostles: Simon, Jude, and Andrew. If the Master works in the invisible, so should the disciples, like John the Baptist. John knew who he was in the scheme of things. He understood where he came from and what his mission was. Do I really know who I am? God loves each of us with an intensity we cannot imagine. He loves each of us as if we were His only, His precious son or daughter. We each have God’s full attention for every moment of our lives. Do we act in a way that we are aware of it?


IN SEARCH OF YOUR IDENTITY: This is a piercing, probing question: Who are you? It is harder to answer, when it is asked in the first person. Yet life is decided in the way one answers this very question. John is the perfect example in answering it; he clearly spells out that he is neither the Christ, the prophet nor Elijah. I am the voice crying out in the wilderness. At a time when the society ascribes roles, places images, and offers colorful masks to individuals that it holds with esteem. It takes extreme honesty and courage, for anyone to stick to who they truly are. Based on this, we continue to bear heavy emotional baggage and suffer from a compulsive need to appear immaculate and infallible. In such dark moments, the “I am statements” of Jesus, guide us. The statements help us to remain unshaken having the desire to sincerely stand for who we are. Let us journey on that road of self-discovery, knowing that each of us is created in the image and likeness of the Creator. This is the identity that we all equally share.