2nd Sunday of the Year (a) 2020
We can all say with John the Baptist about Jesus, “I did not know him myself”. Jesus lived and died 2000 years ago, so we had no chance to know him. Is that a disadvantage? You sometimes here people say: “if only I could see Jesus then my faith would be much stronger”. You can understand why someone would say that, but it’s not necessarily true. There were many people who saw Jesus in his own day, even saw him perform miracles but they still didn’t believe in him. Faith in Jesus isn’t therefore about sight, about seeing and touching. There are other ways of knowing Jesus, even 2000 years later. One way of knowing him is through his friends.
John the Baptist wasn’t necessarily a friend of Jesus. We know he was his cousin, even though they didn’t seem to know each other. John says at the end of today’s gospel; “Yes, I have seen and I am witness that he is the Chosen One of God”. It’s that word “witness” that is important: John witnessed to Christ. John’s witness didn’t end at his death. John had his own disciples. They continued to be his disciples for centuries afterwards. As each generation passed away so a new took up the baton.
As well as John’s disciples there were, of course, Christ’s own disciples. Beginning with the 12 apostles. We know that Peter and Paul and James, and many others died a martyr’s death. They witnessed to Christ with their blood. And this witnessing passed on from generation to generation, down through the centuries, until our own day. Today we have our own witnesses to Christ; some of them are well known: St. Mother Teresa, Saint John Paul II, St Padre Pio, to name but three, but many, many others are not well known. How often have I heard someone say, “my mother was a saint”. Sometimes “my father was a saint” but more often the mother. They will never probably be canonized but they left a deep and lasting impression by their lives.
The truth is that we are all called to witness to Christ. We see witnesses to Christ in our own generation; we see people who are gentle, in spite of oppression. We see people who are courageous in the face of terrible violence. We see people who are kind to those who are rude to them. There are people who would give you their last penny. Those who go out of their way to help someone in need. These are our saints. They witness to the values of the gospel. By knowing them we know Christ.
Christ has come into the world in order to be known. He wants us to know him, love him and serve him. And what he is telling us to do is to witness to the people of our generation. He wants us to love like he did. Love makes the world go round; not power, not money, not hatred, but love. It is the greatest force and we are called to know him who is love, our saviour Jesus Christ. Look at him. He is here among us, in the good people you know; but he is also in you; don’t forget that.