«Standing among you is one unknown to you». The Baptist pronounced these words referring to Jesus, who is already moving among those who came to the Jordan to be baptized, though he has not yet manifested himself. This is precisely the Baptist’s concern «make his paths straight» so that those people would be able to believe in that one. This is how the first Christian generations presented the figure of the Baptist.
But the Baptist’s words are presented in such a way that they can be read today by those who call ourselves Christians, so as to provoke unsettling questions in us. Jesus is in our midst, but do we truly know him? Do we agree with him? Do we closely follow him?
Certainly in the Church we are always talking about Jesus. In theory there’s nothing more important for us. But pretty quickly we find ourselves heading so much toward our own ideas, projects, activities that all too often Jesus ends up on the back burner. We ourselves are the ones who unwittingly «hide» him by putting ourselves in the forefront.
Possibly Christianity’s greatest disgrace is that for so many men and women who call themselves Christian, Jesus is absent from their hearts. They don’t know him. They don’t vibrate with him. He doesn’t attract or seduce them. Jesus is an inert and darkened figure. He’s silent. He says nothing special to breathe life into their lives. Their existence isn’t marked by Jesus.
Our Church urgently needs «witnesses» to Jesus, believers who look more like him, Christians who by their way of being and living facilitate the path to believe in Christ. We need witnesses who speak of God the way Jesus speaks, who communicate his message of compassion as he did, who spread trust in the Father as he did.
What do all our catechesis and preaching do if they don’t lead others to know, love and follow Jesus Christ with more faith and more joy? Where do our Eucharists lead to if they don’t help us to share in a more living manner with Jesus, with his project, with his crucified giving of self to all? In the Church no one is «the Light», but all of us can shine that light through our lives. No one is «God’s Word», but all of us can be a voice that invites and encourages the focusing of Christianity on Jesus Christ.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf