ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
A VOICE CRYING OUT IN THE DESERT
December 11, 2011
Today’s gospel: John 1:6-28
The world is in a dire situation in relation to God. First, it does not recognize its Creator, as “the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him.” (Jn 1:10). Second, even as God manifested Himself to a people, they rejected Him. “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.” (Jn 1:11). Thus the world remains in darkness, even as “the true light, which enlightens everyone, (has come) into the world.” (Jn 1:9).
So God send His own Son, God who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14a). This way the world and people could see, hear and experience God Himself. “No one has ever seen God. The only son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” (Jn 1:18). God prepared people by sending others before His Son. John was one of those. “A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.” (Jn 1:6-7).
Later, after his resurrection, Jesus would also send men, to be proclaimers of the gospel of salvation in Jesus. This was the way of salvation, won on the cross, as “to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name” (Jn 1:12).
Thus Jesus, sent by the Father, is our Savior. Jesus has won salvation for us. But we need to accept what he has done for us, turning to him in repentance and faith, and accepting him as Savior and Lord. People need to be evangelized. In this, God makes use of human instruments. We are those instruments. We need to be like John the Baptist.
Are we aware of our work and mission? Are we evangelizers? What will we answer if anyone asks us, “Who are you?” (Jn 1:19c).
* We are “not the Messiah” (Jn 1:20), and we do not have a messianic complex, but we do continue the work of the Messiah Jesus. We are his instruments. We do the work of evangelization and mission.
* We are not Elijah (Jn 1:21a), but like Elijah we are sent, before the day of the Lord comes, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and children to their fathers (Mal 3:23-24a). We do the work of family renewal, a crucial component to the work of evangelization.
* We are not the Prophet (Jn 1:21b), but the prophet Moses himself says, “A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen.” (Dt 18:15). We have a prophetic role. We speak God’s word. Like John the Baptist, we call people to repentance. We assure people of God’s love for them. We urge and guide them to greater holiness of life.
Who are we? We “are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet” (Jn 1:25b) and we are not John the Baptist. But John’s mission is our mission as well. “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord”’” (Jn 1:23). This is our task. We proclaim Christ and his salvation in the world, a parched desert of sin and death. We help prepare the way of the Lord and make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God (Is 40:3). We help prepare people’s hearts for the Lord Jesus to enter, and for them to walk on the straight path of faith.
What a great privilege! We introduce the Savior to people and we work for the one “whose sandal strap (we) are not worthy to untie.” (Jn 1:27b). Even though we are not worthy, God allows us to do divine work. Even though we are unfit to untie Jesus’ sandal strap, he allows us to step into those very sandals.
How about you? “What do you have to say for yourself?” (Jn 1:22b).
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