Working with the Word

Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: Who are you?, I am not the Christ, the voice of one crying out, one who is coming after me

To the point: John the Baptist is sure about his own identity because he is sure about the identity of Jesus. John knows himself to the the precursor of the greater One yet to come, whose sandal strap he is not even worthy to untie. His self-knowledge enables John to be who God intends him to be: not the Messiah, but the one who points beyond self to the Messiah’s presence. If we are asked, “Who are you?” can we be so sure about our own identity in relation to Jesus that our lives too point to him?

Connecting the Gospel …

… to the First Reading: John the Baptist in the gospel describes the great difference that exists between who he is and who Jesus is. By implication, the same great difference exists between Jesus and us. Yet, in the second reading Paul makes clear that God indeed diminishes this difference through the grace of the Spirit in whom we are made “perfectly holy” and are “preserved blameless.”

… to experience: American Idol shows us identities and gifts in fierce competition to be number one. John shows us the opposite: how different identities and gifts must cooperate to bring about the reign of God by not focusing on self but on Other and other.


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson