Jesus Christ reveals to us the truth about our identity.
In today’s Gospel, crowds come to John the Baptist asking who he is. He answers by describing who he is in relation to Jesus Christ.
“I am not Elijah…I am not the prophet…I am not worthy to unfasten the sandal of the one who comes after me.” But he is “the voice crying out in the wilderness” to prepare the way for the One who is coming.
John comes to understand his true identity in light of his relation to the One who is to come – Jesus Christ. In light of that relationship, he hears the word of Scripture in a particular and personal way. John discovers his “personal vocation” – the unique way God is at work in his life.
John is aware that he is “not worthy to unfasten the sandal” of the One coming after him. That was the lowest job of the lowest slave – to wash the feet of one’s master who has returned from a journey. In relation to Jesus, John is aware of his utter humility and unworthiness.
The image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on the cover today contains a puzzling detail. One of Jesus’ sandals is falling off. Is Mary an inattentive mother? No, this is an expression of her unique role as one who – to use the words of John the Baptist – was made worthy to unfasten the sandal of the One who comes. Or, in Mary’s own words, she is aware of being “the handmaid of the Lord.”
How do you understand yourself in relation to Jesus? Is there a Scripture passage or image that particularly strikes your heart? In this final week of preparation for Christmas, you might give a little time to notice and ponder these details. What does Jesus, the One who is coming, reveal to you about your identity? How do you find yourself in the story of his coming?