Our gospel reading from the Gospel of John today offers two separate sections from the first chapter of the gospel. What holds them together is that they both deal with John the Baptist, and both sections speak of him as ‘a witness’.
The first three verses of this passage are an extract from the great prologue to the gospel, which begins with the words, ‘In the beginning was the Word’. In speaking of the entry into the world of the Word of God, the Son sent by the Father, the writer cannot avoid speaking also of John the Baptist, but he makes it quite clear that John was a witness. He was not the Word-Light himself, but only ‘a witness to speak for the light’.
The second section of the gospel passage comes immediately after the prologue and gives us details of how John bore his witness to Jesus. It is a characteristic of John that he always points to the one who is greater. He insists that he is simply ‘a voice crying in the wilderness’. He dismisses all the speculation, that he himself might be the Christ, or the prophet to come. His whole ministry is to prepare the way, by baptising with a baptism of repentance, and by proclaiming the coming of the one who truly is the Messiah. To bear witness is the task of every Christian. We bear the name of Christ. Bearing witness to him means bringing his light and truth to those in darkness.
In what ways should I be imitating the self-effacing humility of the Baptist?
What does it mean to be a witness?
Let us pray for those called to martyrdom in today’s world, that they may have the necessary courage and wisdom.
Let us welcome the light, as John did.