On Sunday, we read the Gospel of John 1:31-33, and we heard St. John the Baptist admit two times that he did not recognize Jesus. It is hard to believe, isn’t it? Especially when we know John the Baptist was the son of a priest and cousin of Jesus. He knew the scriptures very well. He saw Jesus numerous times and yet, he still sent two of his disciples to question him if he is the chosen one to come or should they look for another. We also know that Jesus said, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. If someone like St. John the Baptist struggled to recognize Jesus in the flesh it leaves us to think in comparison our chances of recognizing him through faith, in the people we meet, and our everyday lives, are pretty slim; however, don’t get discouraged. Pope Francis gives us hope.
I read his homily from Christmas break at the Santa Marta daily mass, and in his homily, he gives #3 tasks to guide us in recognizing Jesus. He said,
“Jesus is always at the center of Christian life: He manifests himself, and we are all invited to get to know him, to recognize him in our lives and in so many circumstances of life.”
He suggests that if we want to recognize Jesus and to know him, we must put him in the center of our lives. He asks us two questions, is Jesus the center of our lives? And what is our relationship with Him? In Jesus time many did not recognize him: Aside from St. John the Baptist there were the doctors of the law, the chief priests, the scribes, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees. They persecuted Him and they killed Him.
Pope Francis challenges us to reflect on how interested we are to know Jesus? Or are we more interested in watching soap operas, gossiping, pursuing our ambitions or talking about the lives of others? He then gives us three tasks to secure Jesus at the center of our lives.
There is prayer, the Holy Spirt, and the Gospel which we should carry with us and read a passage every day. It is the only way he says to get to know Jesus. Afterward, it is the Holy Spirit that does the work, makes the seed sprout and grow.
Worshiping Jesus: not just asking things of Him and thanking Him, but praying silently in adoration and removing from our hearts other things we adore and that capture our interest. He said the Glory be the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit is a prayer of adoration and a way to worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but, too often we recite it like parrots. He continues, a little prayer, in silence, before the greatness of God is a way to worship Jesus and say: ‘You are the only one, you are the beginning and the end, and I want to stay with you throughout my life, throughout eternity. It is a way to chase away the things that prevent me from worshiping Jesus.’
To follow Jesus, as illustrated in the Gospels. It means putting Jesus at the center of our lives: Christian life, is simple, but we need the Grace of the Holy Spirit to awaken the desire to know Jesus, to worship Jesus, and to follow Him. That is why during the collect we ask the Lord what we are called to do and we ask Him for the strength to do it. Pope Francis concluded Christians do not need to do strange, difficult, or superfluous things. Ask the Lord for the Grace to know Jesus, to worship Jesus, and to follow Him.
My dear friends, as you can see, there is hope for us all, because our God is the most generous and merciful God. His love and His laws are there to lead us to Him, not ensnare or trap us. He is our friend, our advisor, our protector, and our creator, may we rise to His expectations. May He strengthen our Faith and lessen our doubts. May He help us to forgive and Love as He does. May we mirror Him in all His majesty.