|1/9/2013 8:47:00 AM|
It's Not All About Us
Jan. 13, 2013
|Mary Jo Tully|
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland
The Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
Despite the fact that we are continually told that it’s “not all about us,” we frequently think it is. If someone doesn’t like us, we wonder “what’s not to like?” And when we are affirmed and praised, we are certain that indeed it is all about us. It is all too easy to believe our favorable publicity and lose sight of our real task.
Imagine John the Baptist. He was clearly a charismatic figure who drew pilgrims from all over the land. People thronged to hear him. Most of all, he was an enigma. Who was this man? The crowd longed to know and did not hesitate to ask, “Are you the Christ?” The Baptist must have felt affirmed and it would have been difficult not to feel important but John did not hesitate to say that he was only the precursor of one who was mightier than he. Because John was a human like us, he was surely pleased with the affection and attention he received in his ministry. Now, though, the Lord was ready to begin his public ministry and John was challenged to lead his own followers to Jesus. He was called to send his followers to the Lord.
Most of us could use a good “John the Baptist dose of reality.” It is not about us. It is about someone else, especially if we are involved in ministry or influencing someone who is seeking the Lord.
Those who journey with the catechumens toward baptism know the experience well. During the RCIA process, the faith of the believer is affirmed and the bonds of friendship are forged with the sponsor. Eventually, though, the moment comes when the sponsor must "let go" — must turn the person over to the Lord so that faith can be truly adult. Believers who have been through this process know something about what John the Baptist must have felt. At last, they have found someone who appreciates their spiritual sensibilities and who is willing to travel with them on their way to the Lord and they are asked to step back and say, “It isn’t about me.”
As Christians, we take upon ourselves the obligation to do Christ's work in the world. We have been given the spirit to bring justice to all humankind. Like the Baptist, we lead others to the Lord who will bring the light of faith to the blind and free us from the imprisonment of our own personalities.
The time for wallowing in the luxury of the Infant Jesus is over. A task lies before us. Together we promise to "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord," through love and service to the community.