3rd Sunday Advent – “Who Are You?”

Joe Geshick canoe

Who are you?

Sunday’s gospel is all about identity.  John’s, Jesus’, yours, and mine.

Brendan Byrne, SJ, the Australian scripture scholar pointed out how John (usually known as the Baptist) in John’s gospel is more of a witness than a baptizer.  In fact the trial motif  extends throughout the entire gospel, culminating in the interrogation of Jesus by the High Priest and by Pilate.

So, notice: Jewish officials sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to interrogate John: “Who Are You?”  “I am not the Christ.”  Elijah?  “No.”  A prophet like Moses as the harbinger of the Last Days?  “Wrong!”  “Who are you?”

John was sent by God to bear witness to the Light.  In other words, he knew himself and understood himself in terms of his relationship with Jesus.

It’s possible many will see his answers saying something about his function.  Yet, John’s gospel is all about relationship with Jesus.  As John knows Jesus and vice-versa, John understands his identity in regard to Jesus the Light of the World: “I am the voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the Way of the Lord!  Make straight his paths.”


It seems to me that Advent (which may last for a lifetime) designates that season of spiritually searching for our identity which we find by relating to Christ incarnate and ever-present. 

In other words, “Who are you?” relates to “Where is Bethlehem located in your life?”  and “Are you seeking? finding? and sharing?”

Christ was born in the town of Bethlehem.  And our inner Bethlehems are situated there in the midst of the poverty & rejection we despise.

Like, John, therefore, our seeking and finding of Bethlehem allows us to answer “Who are you?” from the stance of knowing rather than parroting.

He knew the Light.  He realized he was not the Light.  What a gift.

Happy Advent! –roc,sj

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