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Jan 2nd: Christmas Season - Reflection & Liturgy

1 John 2:22-28 / John 1:19-28

Some priests question John: “Are you the Messiah, Elijah, or a prophet?”

 Jewish priesthood was hereditary. John's father was a priest, so John was one too. This explains why priests w-ere the first to ask John who he was. For example, was he the expected Messiah? Or was he Elijah, who many Jews thought would return before the coming of the Messiah? (Maiachi 3:23) Or was he the unnamed prophet whom Moses talked about years before? (Deuteronomy 18:15). John said he wasn’t the Messiah. Nor was he Elijah returned from the dead. Nor was he the prophet spoken of by Moses. He said his role was to prepare people for the coming of one whose sandal strap he was unworthy to fasten.
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Do we sense our unworthiness in relation to Jesus? “A mountain shames a molehill until they are both humbled by the stars.” Old adage
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John the Baptist was really a strange prophet. He had a strange wardrobe, and an even stranger diet. We don't read about him working great miracles or wonders. In fact, he didn't even identify himself as John the Baptist. When asked who he was, he replied with who he was not. Even in the last resort, he borrowed a passage from the prophet Isaiah, in order to give an answer about what he came to do.

Yet, Jesus called John the Baptist the greatest of all the prophets. Simply because John the Baptist diverted the attention from himself to the one who is to come. We too are called to be prophets by virtue of our baptism. We can learn a lot from John the Baptist about how we should carry out our prophetic role.
The temptation to get attention, the praise and even the glory is indeed very strong, and some have succumbed to it.
But let us remember that we are just a voice that cries out in the wilderness of our world to make a straight way for the Lord. Just that, and no more.
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LITURGY:

THE MESSIAH IN OUR MIDST

Introduction:
In his first letter, John, probably reacting against the Gnostics, strongly asserts that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ in our midst. Like John the Baptist in the Gospel, we, and the whole Church, have to assert strongly that we are not the Christ, though he stands among us, but we have to be his voice, most of all by the way we live. Our lives have to point to him.

Opening Prayer
God, your Son stands among us, but we don’t know him enough and people may not know him enough because they don’t see him in us or among us. Make us his voice, perhaps a silent and timid voice, because we show a bit of his goodness, of his compassion and forgiveness by the way we live. We are not Christ, but let us be his humble sign and voice, for he is our Lord forever.

Intercessions
– That the Church and all of us may be one voice pointing to Christ as our life and the source of our faith and happiness, we pray:
– Especially for our priests, catechists, and religious, who are by vocation road signs to Christ, that their word and life style may lead people to him, we pray:
– For people to whom Christ is still unknown, that they may discover Christ as the meaning of their lives, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Our loving God,
you come among us as a person,
human like us and close to us in your Son Jesus Christ.
Give us a deep and living faith in him,
that we may live in him
and be close to him in all we say and do.
For he is our Lord and God,
and yet our brother who loves us.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Father of Jesus Christ,
your Son has spoken to us
and he has nourished us
with himself, with his body and blood.
Though we know him now a bit better,
we ask you insistently
that we may come to love him more,
for in many ways he is still a stranger to us
and we are still very much unlike him.
Let Jesus live in us, now and for ever.

Blessing
If only we could be better voices and signs of Christ! We wish that we, and the whole world, would know him better. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Commentary:
The liturgical readings from the feast of Mary, the Mother of God (January 1), to the Epiphany draw on the Johannine literature in pointing up the deeper significance of the Christ event. Today’s readings stress the importance of the truth, with Christ as its noblest expression.
A lie is defined as a lack of conformity between the mind and reality. Objective facts say one thing and, for a variety of reasons, the person says another. This may be called equivocation, obfuscation, deception, or simply a lie. When John’s epistle was written, Christians were separating themselves from the faith community as well as from the truth. In denying that Christ was truly the Son of God, they were declared antichrists. In so saying and professing, they sinned against both Father and Son. The charge against them is strong. They deny the truth and are nothing more than bars.
The authentic Christian remains strong in his faith affirmation. That person stands in the truth, anointed in baptism, and destined for eternal life. If we remain in the truth, evil will have no hold on us. We are well prepared for the fullness of God that will come at the end of the road.
John the Baptist was a celebrated preacher and end-time prophet in his day. But, as in today’s Gospel, he makes no exaggerated claims. He speaks the truth. No, he is not the messiah, nor Elijah, nor the expected eschatological prophet. His baptism is one of conversion administered with water. Yes, there is one coming after him who will far exceed him in his person and his ministry. There is no equivocation, no duplicity. He states it as it is and merits die praise of Jesus. No one born of woman was greater than he.
The truth in our time is evasive. People in government distort the truth in what is referred to as the “spin.” CEOs of major companies face incarceration for the deceptive use of funds for their own personal gain. Sadly, we have seen examples of the evasion and concealment of truth within the church itself to the detriment of members of the faithful.
In our daily lives, we may be inclined to alter the facts for reasons of pride, personal interest, or embarrassment. The truths of faith are, of course, paramount. But truth is not selective. It seeks objectivity and candor in all instances. In the spirit of gospel transparency, let our answer be “yes, yes” or “no, no.”

Points to Ponder:

The truths of faith
Truth in daily life
Truth in society
Distortion of the truth
The limited claims of John the Baptist