Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; Jn 1:29-34.

Turning Over Stones

And a voice came from the heavens, saying, -- This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.

If you are like me, perhaps you cringed a little when you turned the pages in your lectionary to the second week of ordinary time, year A only to find that the gospel very closely resembles the gospel from last Sunday. In the words of the great Yogi Berra -- Its like deja vu all over again.

Of course there are some differences between the gospel last week and the gospel this week. One highlight is that there is a clear push to clarify exactly who John the Baptist is. This Gospel from John does not mince words. In short, John the Baptist is not the Christ.

Why is this emphasized? Apparently there was a faction in the world of the Evangelist that confused John the Baptist with being the Messiah, and the Evangelist wanted to draw some clear lines regarding who is who.

So, we do have some differences between the Gospel last week and this week; but how might these differences preach? Is there an angle? Is there another stone to overturn or do we pray that everybody forgot what we said last week?

Seeing how my parishioners have pretty good memories, I have decided to head in the direction of clarifying our own identities during this short period of Ordinary Time.

Just as John the Baptist clarifies who he is -- that is, a humble servant who is preparing the way -- we also may find the need to clarify our roles. As John the Baptist is identified by who he is NOT -- moreso than who he is -- we may also identify who we are by declaring who we are not.

Do we know our role? Do we need to rekindle our dependence upon God? Do we need to decrease so that the proper place of Jesus in our lives may increase? Do we need some clarity? Do we need a reality check of who is who?

As charismatic as John must have been to attract the crowds that he did, he was still the #2 man, the supporting actor, the prep man, the stage setter. He knew his role and fulfilled it well. He did not get in the way of -- the one who is coming after me whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie -- in fact John saw his role as simply making straight His way.

As we return to the season of Ordinary Time we also need to be like John the Baptist. We need to prepare the way of Jesus so that he may find us and those around us.

The Evangelist did not shy away of making clear distinctions between Jesus and John the Baptist in the Gospel for this Sunday. We should not either.

Let us recall our identity -- our relationship to Jesus -- and make the necessary preparations in our own lives to make straight the way of the Lord.

In short, let us move from independence to dependence. Dependence upon Jesus.

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