HOMILY FOR JANUARY 2, MEMORIAL OF STs. BASIL THE GREAT AND GREGORY NAZIANZEN. (1)







HOMILY FOR JANUARY 2, MEMORIAL OF STs. BASIL THE GREAT AND GREGORY NAZIANZEN.

THEME: WITNESS TO THE LIGHT.

BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

 

John 1:19-28

And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites [to him] to ask him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Messiah.” So, they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John, the son of Zechariah, was known as the Baptist, for he appeared on the scene baptizing people at the Jordan. But in the eyes of the writer of the fourth Gospel, the Apostle John, what is of more significance is not the baptism he does, but the witness he gives about the Messiah. The Gospel today begins with the words, “And this is the testimony of John.” He starts his testimony with his firm denial: “I am not the Messiah.” And he tells the people who he really is: “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord.”’

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And then he gives his categorical testimony: “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” Then when he catches sight of Jesus while he was baptizing, he points Him out to the people: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). He further testified: “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him…Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God” (Jn 1:32, 34).

John carried out his testimony in two ways: by being the voice and by bearing the light. He preceded Jesus in time and prepared people for His coming. So, he goes around preaching a baptism of repentance. He is the voice crying out: “Prepare the way of the Lord! Repent and receive baptism!” He is just the voice, and not the Word. But his voice is uncompromising and unwavering even in the face of the powers of the world.

And secondly, although “he was not the light, [he] came to testify to the light” (Jn 1:8). Jesus Himself describes him thus: “He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light” (Jn 5:35). John knows that “the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world’ (Jn 1:9).

As Christians, we are duty-bound to give testimony to Jesus in the world today. Like John, we are called to precede Jesus in our own little ways by making it possible for people to come to know Him and to follow Him. The world is full of discordant and competing voices, each one offering happiness and pleasure, and enticing people to follow the ways of selfishness and worldliness. Amidst all these noise and cacophony, let our voices be heard loud and clear, proclaiming the truth of the Gospel of Jesus and giving testimony to the imminent advent and reign of genuine and everlasting peace and happiness.

We are not the light, for Jesus alone is the Light of the World (John 8:12). But we are called to give constant witness to the Light. In fact, Jesus even says that we should be the bearers of light for we, too, are “the light of the world” (Matt 5:14). As Christians, it is our duty to do this. As St. Chromatius of Aquileia said, “ If we fail to live in the Light, we shall, to our condemnation and that of others, be veiling over and obscuring, by our infidelity, the Light men so desperately need… That brilliant Lamp which was lit for the sake of our salvation should shine in us. For we have the lamp of the heavenly commandments and spiritual grace, to which David referred: ‘Your law is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.’”

The Word of God calls for voices to proclaim it. The Light of the World calls for lamps and light bearers to drive away darkness. Hence, in the midst of the darkness of sin and evil in the world, let us hold our lamps high up and shining brightly, and proclaim that Jesus is the Light of salvation. May we hasten to respond to this call, so that like John the Baptist, we, too, can give true and effective testimony to Jesus, our Messiah and Lord.

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

 

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