See and understand, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:29

When John the Baptist came, preaching repentance and offering baptism, the religious establishment were quick to try and define who he was. He repeatedly had to assert who he was not – not the Christ, not Elijah, not the Prophet. All he would say of himself was that he was preparing for someone, someone greater than himself.

Then when Jesus comes towards him, his vision clarifies: he knows what Jesus is and for what he has come: ‘the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world.’ In the midst of witnessing to who Jesus is, John twice affirms his ignorance. His words, ‘I did not know him,’ while looking like a profession of ignorance, are actually shot through with wonder before the mystery. The irony is that it is in wonder before the person of Jesus that John comes to his fullest self- identity: the one who baptised in order to reveal the one who existed before him; the one who saw the Spirit descend and so the one could testify who was the Chosen One of God.

Later in the Gospel, John clarifies his relationship to the Jesus even more. He is the friend of the Bridegroom. His own joy complete in being less before the Christ, he is able to see and testify to who the Christ is: the one who has come down from heaven and who speaks God’s own words and who offers eternal life to the world.

Our society puts great store on having a strong and confident self-image, yet at the same time, there is a pressure to conform to the groups within which we find ourselves. What results is often a person, conflicted and unhappy. In the person of John the Baptist, we see another way to understanding who one is. John was at ease, with uncertainty. He lived peaceably in the dark wonder of mystery and ultimately, it was in relation to the person of Jesus that he found his true identity…as we will ours.

Adapted from Renew International Prayer Time Cycle A