Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A - 19th January 2014

St. Augustine dedicated a lot of time to thinking about what it means to be a believer in Jesus Christ. One of his most important insights is that God, no matter how close we may draw to him, will always remain somewhat distant. He says that we must seek God if we want to find him; and that we must find God if we want to seek him. This strange paradox is part of what it means to be a believer. 

On the one hand we have found God – we believe – which means that we choose to make our own the faith that was handed on to us. 
On the other hand we continue to search for God even though we have found him – we know only too well that the fullness of God eludes our capacity; and we also know that our searching can get distracted or even tired. To be a disciple is a continual struggle as we do our best to put in to practice what we have received. No matter how much we try to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, we continue to encounter difficulty.

Our experience tells us that as we try to follow Jesus we somehow get sort of stuck. Things don’t often work out exactly as we would have wished or planned. Nonetheless, even when we have lost our way, we can always begin again. We know that our God is forgiving; in fact, he wants to forgive us. Sometimes, however, we can get so caught up in the business of life that we lose our bearings; sometimes we can do things that fill us with guilt or shame that make it difficult to even think of trying to find the way; sometimes we get so lost that we think the way is not really for us anymore; and that we have, somehow, excluded ourselves from God’s love.
The difficulty is that when we have lost our way it can be hard to find our way back. Sometimes it is difficult to find the energy to begin again; it can even be hard to believe that we can ever be forgiven; we can become completely lost. This can be a very lonely and isolating experience.

This is where we need John the Baptists. 

We need those people who will remind us of God, and of God’s mercy and forgiveness; people who will point out to us that there is the Lamb of God. These same people remind us that we need not despair, because this is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Whatever it is that is weighing on us, we can free ourselves from it. This is the constant invitation that Jesus makes to us. “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Of course, we too are also called to be John the Baptists for those we meet. We, who consider ourselves to be believers, are charged with spreading the message of God’s loving forgiveness. We are the ones who are to be the proclaimers of God’s love and forgiveness in a world that finds them hard to identify.

John the Baptist pointed Jesus out to the people around him. We are challenged too to point to Jesus. We do this by the way we live, by the way we treat others, by the way we treat ourselves.

Article posted on 19th of January 2014