We sure could use a guy like John the Baptist around here. If Jesus happens to casually walk past me one day like he did in today’s Gospel reading, I sure hope that someone like John the Baptist will point Him out to me if I’m not paying attention.
John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
When I read the Gospel story of The First Disciples a few days ago, it reminded me of The Road to Emmaus when I reflected on whether I had encountered Jesus during a long day of travel. While I always hope and pray that I will see the face of Jesus in everyone, I know that I fall short. We all do. Maybe seeing John the Baptist is the next best thing.
Perhaps Jesus walked past me in the days leading up to Christmas through the end of the year. And if I didn’t notice Him, I wonder if these people I did notice were modern-day John the Baptists, trying to lead me, either actively or passively, to follow the Lamb of God through their acts of kindness, charity and sacrifice:
- The medical technician who worked late into the evening just a couple of nights before Christmas to stuff me and other patients into a smaller-than-a-coffin MRI machine. (Santa gave me a cervical herniated disc as an early Christmas present.)
- The relatives who traveled to my home on Christmas Eve, saving me and my immediate family from having to make a trip out of town.
- The priest who raised the Host at Christmas Mass (and every other Mass) and, just like John the Baptist, said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”
- As I served as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at Christmas Mass, the parishioner who gave me a forgiving smile as I offered the Host and accidentally said, “May you receive God’s blessing today” instead of “The body of Christ” because the previous four people in my line had come forward for a blessing.
- The workers who apparently had to do some urgent repairs of a building at my parish on Christmas day.
- My four-year-old nephew who insisted on giving me a “Disney’s Finding Dory Calculator Set” as a Christmas present. (In his defense, I do fit in the recommended age range of “3-and-up.”)
- The person who wrote this message from God on a chalkboard inside a restaurant where I took my younger daughter for a daddy-daughter dinner date: “The next time you swear, use your own name instead of mine!”
- The older gentleman at the next table in the same restaurant who smiled at my four-year-old daughter when she was being a little loud.
- The mechanic who was covered head to toe in grease after working on my wife’s car but quickly washed his hands so he could shake ours.
- The other driver at a four-way stop who waved for me to go even though I’m pretty sure she got there first.
- Every single person, especially strangers, who said “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year” to me over the past couple of weeks.
It’s easy to get caught up in the secular stresses of life. But if you take the time to stop and think about the people you encounter every single day, you may recognize and appreciate how they may be leading you to Jesus, either knowingly or unknowingly.
Who knows? Maybe they are thinking the same thing about you. You can be a modern-day John the Baptist too.