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Homily for second Sunday, year A

10 Jan 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

john-the-baptist-pointJohn the Baptist is a trendy figure in the New Testament. Even from birth, people were already asking; what will this child grow up to be. There was confusion about his identity that even led the Jews to send their priests and Levites to question John. They asked him; who are you? He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself? (Jn. 1:19-22).

John had followers, and many of them must have confused him for the Messiah. But he himself knew that he is not the Messiah and did not pretend about it. In our gospel passage this morning, John pointed the Messiah out. John saw Jesus coming towards him, and he says, Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. He reminded his listeners what he had told them about one who is coming, who ranks higher than himself.

In pointing Jesus out, he did not use the word Messiah but rather the lamb of God. That is not to say that Jesus is not the Messiah; he is the awaited Messiah. But the people had a misconception of the Messiah; the Messiah for them was to be a political figure, one who would fight the Roman government. But John looked beyond that physical battle to point out the lamb of God who would conquer the world by his blood and save us not from the Roman power but the power of sin and death. The Jews were already used to the lamb as a sacrificial animal, they used the blood of a lamb to mark their doorposts while in Egypt to prevent the angel of death from entering their homes, and today John point out for us the lamb who marks our lives with his blood to save us from everlasting death.

John said he did not know him himself but was told by he who sent him how to identify him. The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptize with the Holy Spirit.  John saw the Spirit descend on Jesus, and he testified that Jesus is the Son of God.

The Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth; he is the teacher. We cannot know Jesus unless we have the Spirit of God in us. Jesus said to his own apostles that they would be his witnesses when they receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), the Spirit indeed is the teacher, the comforter, and the sanctifier. Unfortunately, there are all kinds of spirits operating in our world today; the anti-Christ spirits are at work in our world. It has brought so much division among Christians, even members of the same Church. Families are divided, and homes are broken. All kinds of spirits are at work, deceiving and leading people astray. But St. Paul reminds us in our second reading today that we are called to take our place among the saints. We are called witnesses to the gospel of truth because we have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. We are to point Christ out for others to see; we are to do this by words of mouth and by the way we act. We need to give the Spirit the chance to work in us, to break our pride, and make us humble witnesses. One cannot be a witness unless he is humble; in humility, we bear witness to the greatness of God. John humbled himself to say; he is greater than I am; I am not worthy to untie his sandals.

Today, let us be reminded that we are Sons and daughters of God baptized with the Holy Spirit. We are called to be witnesses to Christ in our own ways, to point Christ out for the world to see.