This was the testimony of John when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him, «Who are you?». John recognized the truth and did not deny it. He said, «I am not the Messiah». And they asked him, «Then who are you? Elijah?». He answered, «I am not». They said, «Are you the Prophet?». And he answered, «No». Then they said to him, «Tell us who you are, so that we can give some answer to those who sent us. How do you see yourself?». And John said, quoting the prophet Isaiah, «I am the voice crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord».
Those who had been sent were Pharisees; so they put a further question to John: «Then why are you baptizing if you are not the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet?». John answered, «I baptize you with water, but among you stands one whom you do not know; although he comes after me, I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandal». This happened in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
We are called to live a witnessing life. Some of us are called to identify and others are called to testify. Whatever may be the vocation, we are all inspired by the Holy Spirit. We witness the truth, the truth about the creation and it’s Creator, particularly what we have seen, heard and lived. This testimony demands a basic self-knowledge and minimum awareness of our mission. John was aware of his status and the Christ standing in the crowd.
It is from this knowledge of truth that we can help people to identify the presence of God, in them and amidst us. Certainly our words and deeds should be coherent with what we believe and teach. John remained faithful to the call and aware of the mission.
To know the truth we should learn to move from here to the other side. From our interiority towards our exteriority. Being aware of what’s happening inside of us, our own inner conflicts, our joy and pain, will help us to identify how God works in and through us. Without this interiorising process, we can’t look outward. In this process we discover the greatness of God and our smallness before Him.
Jesus is the source of this information and He himself is the information. It is in and through Him that we discover the immensity of God and His work in us. Incarnation has created a proximity, which demands us to search God, first in us, in our brothers and sisters, and finally in the creation, at large. Have a wonderful day.
«Among you stands one whom you do not know; although he comes after me»
Mons. Romà CASANOVA i Casanova Bishop of Vic
Today, in the Gospel of the Eucharist liturgy, we read the testimony of John the Baptist. The text preceding these words in St. John's Gospel is the prologue where it is clearly affirmed: «And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us» (Jn 1:14). What was announced in the prologue —as a great prelude— is now, step by step, manifested in the Gospel. The mystery of the Incarnated Verb is the mystery of salvation for mankind: «Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ» (Jn 1:17). Salvation comes through Jesus Christ, and faith is the answer to the manifestation of Christ. Whoever believes in Him is saved.
The mystery of salvation in Christ is accompanied always by the testimony. Jesus Christ himself is «The Amen, the faithful and true witness» (Rev 3:14). It is John the Baptist who bears witness with his vision and gaze as a prophet: «Among you stands one who (…) comes after me» (Jn 1:26-27). And this is how the Apostles understand their mission: «God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses» (Acts 2:32).
The whole Church, and therefore all its members, have the mission of bearing witness. The testimony we bring to the world has a name. Jesus Christ is the very Gospel. He is the “Good News”. And the proclamation of the Gospel all over the world must also be understood as the key of the testimony uniting inseparably the announcement and the life. It is good to remember the words from Pope Paul VI: «Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses rather than to teachers and if he does listen to teachers it is because they are witnesses».