January 19, 2014 - 2nd Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
"I did not know him." I did not know him. Really?
It's hard to believe that John the Baptist did not recognize Jesus. After all, they were cousins born six months apart. They had to know each other.
So what is John trying to say? Maybe he is trying to say that he didn't see who his cousin really was: Jesus, the Lamb of God.
If John the Baptist, the holy prophet of God, did not recognize Jesus at first, then who else, in our modern world might have difficulty recognizing Jesus?
The teenager who looks for Jesus in material things will fail to recognize him.
Jesus is not found in the things we buy and in the stuff we have. He does not live among the things we accumulate. Jesus does not text because he doesn't have an iPhone.
When we get beyond our computer screens and operating systems and begin to see real people around us, then we begin to care more about others and less about stuff.
Once we begin to move from selfishness to self-giving, then we can begin to recognize Jesus as our friend.
The widow who looks for Jesus at the bottom of the bottle will not recognize him.
The loneliness we feel when we lose someone close cannot be soothed by alcohol or drugs.
These substances deaden our nerves and dull our senses so that we don't feel the pain. But the pain is still there. Lonesomeness is something that only Jesus can take away.
When we face those lonesome feelings with honesty and courage, then we begin to understand that Jesus longs to comfort us, to console us, gently wiping away the tears from our eyes.
The man who is filled with anger and rage, with jealousy and resentment, cannot possibly recognize Jesus.
When clinched fists and shouting matches, hurtful words and painful blows are the way we deal with things that don't go our way, then we are consumed by anger.
When we begin to see how ugly and destructive, in fact, how evil our angry and resentful responses are, then we can begin to control our tempers.
Only then will we be able to recognize Jesus as the gentle Lamb of God who admonishes us to turn the other cheek.
The man or woman who is victim of sexual abuse has difficulty seeing the face of Jesus. Sometimes the only face they see is the face of the abuser.
Victims of sexual assault often ask themselves, "Why is this happening to me?"
When others take advantage of us and use us, we feel worthless and guilty, as if it were our fault.
When we begin to hear Jesus saying, "it's not your fault," then we can begin to see the healing face of Jesus saying, "You are my beloved, with whom I am well pleased."
Gossips who never see good in anyone cannot possibly recognize the Good Shepherd. Their world is one of lies and half-truths, a world of shadows and darkness.
When one lives in darkness, one cannot see the light. When one begins to live in the truth, one begins to see the light, the light of Christ.
The proud and self righteous who believe only in themselves have trouble recognizing Jesus as the source from whom their blessings, gifts and talents flow.
Those who believe that humanity can build a new world, ushering in an age without God, fail to recognize that God is the source of all life.
All that we are and all that we have comes from God. Without God we are nothing.
When we replace pride with humility we suddenly recognize God's will for us.
Some simply don't see value in coming to church, and when they do they are a bit uncomfortable so they stand in the back or leave right after communion.
We shouldn't come to church to be entertained. We come to church to pray.
And when we come seeking Jesus, we discover that Jesus is seeking us too. He longs to be close to us, to enter into relationship with us.
John did not recognize Jesus at first but he kept searching. We might not recognize Jesus today, but we must keep searching.
Jesus comes to us here in this holy place, in the sharing of Sacred Scripture and in the breaking of the Bread.
In just a few moments I, like John, will proclaim, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
I tell you, I did not know him, but now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.