A Look at John

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Mark’s gospel was the first gospel to be written in about the year 68 A.D. It was a time of great persecution for the followers of Jesus. Mark wrote quickly and to the point hoping to encourage the people to be faithful and to trust in God.

His beginning minces no words. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Those twelve words announce without hesitation that it is the Good News of Jesus Christ. (Mark is the only Evangelist according to one source to use the words together. He plainly states that Jesus was the Messiah) and the Son of God.

John was the first connection between the Old Covenant and the New. He is the messenger of whom Isaiah speaks in our first reading today and Jesus Christ is the one of whom John speaks.

That said we can take a look at John. We’ve heard what he ate and what he wore. He lived in the wilderness. He was certainly very different from most of his listeners and his message was certainly quite different from anything the people had ever heard. And the people flocked to hear him. They had been hoping for a “savior,” someone to rescue them from foreign rule. Yes, John was preaching that Someone greater than he was coming. But he also promoted baptism and repentance. Who was this man? And what was his message? I don’t think the people had “any clue” what John was about, yet they came by the hundreds to hear him.

Would we have followed a person like John? Would we have listened to his message or totally dismissed him and his message as too eccentric to be of any importance? And if we didn’t believe his message, would we have just ignored him or would we have persecuted him? How DO we treat those who are different from us?

Are we willing to step out of our comfort zones to preach a message that we truly believe in, be it a message of faith, compassion, or charity? (Remember “preaching” does not have to be words. Actions sometimes speak much louder than words!) As the old saying goes would we be “Fools for Christ?”

And when we do feel strongly about our message, do we persist in delivering it even when it is difficult, when we sometimes feel that no one is paying any attention to us OR when maybe the attention our listeners are giving us isn’t so easy to take? John felt so strongly about his message and persisted in teaching it that it eventually resulted in his death. (No different from Jesus when some of His listeners didn’t “approve” of His message.)

John was sent to make the way straight for the One greater than he was. How will we make straight our path (and the path of others) through the desert of this life into the glory and beauty of the heavenly oasis in the next?

Linda Caminiti