Gospel Mt 3:1-12
But the one who follows me is more powerful than I am
From the very beginning of the Jesus story, and even further back into the history of salvation, we are confronted with, and confounded by, the profound power of paradox. Preference is given to the poor and the lowly; and, power is found in weakness.
The Baptist is one who exemplifies the profoundly powerful nature of this paradox. He owns nothing, clothes himself in camel-hair, eats bizarre food and behaves wildly, and yet he holds a power that is widely acknowledged, and is even threatening for the establishment.
His mysterious appearance in the wilderness drew a crowd, and despite this harsh manner of dress and speak, the people listened intently to him. Aware as they were of his significance, not only personally, but of his ministry in preaching repentance and baptising, John the Baptiser is a model of humility. Despite his being acknowledged as ‘great’ (cf. Mt 11:11, and Lk 7:28), John functioned merely as a sign of what was to come.
In his ministry, John does not accumulate influence or power for himself, but instead points forward to the ‘one who follows.’
John functions as a powerful model for Christians today who seek to prepare the way for the Lord, not only so that He can come into their own lives, but so that He can be present in the lives of our family and friends, and all with whom we come into contact. He makes us uncomfortable, ruffles feathers and then gets out of the way. Breaking the mold of what we think is acceptable in ‘polite society,’ John points the way to an unusual and astounding ‘encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.’ (DCE, 1)