Every year Pax Christi, as the Catholic movement for peace in England and Wales, promotes the Holy Father’s World Peace Day Message on the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. It works across England & Wales with a small team of paid staff and volunteers to promote the gospel message of peace through outreach work, peace education in schools, presence on social media and in the press, and the production of well-respected resources. In the media, we see scenes of terrible human suffering as a result of violent conflict. Feeling overwhelmed and unable to help is understandable. Alongside heartfelt prayers, we are invited to be part of the many parishes who have a collection for the work of Pax Christi at this time as a way to make a practical contribution to building peace in our world and consequently there will be a retiring collection taken After each of today’s Masses to support the work of Pax Christi.
This Sunday we break from our reading of Matthew’s Gospel, the primary Gospel for Cycle A, to read from John’s Gospel. Last Sunday, we heard Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism. Today, we hear John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus as found in John’s Gospel. John’s Gospel differs from the other Gospels because John does not describe Jesus’ baptism but instead, in this account, John the Baptist announces that he knows that Jesus is the Son of God.
In today’s reading, John the Baptist sees Jesus approaching and cries out, giving witness about who Jesus is. In John’s testimony he says that he saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus. By this sign, John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the one who is to come after him.
John the Baptist uses two titles for Jesus that are familiar to us: John calls Jesus the “Lamb of God” and the “Son of God.” By using these titles, John the Baptist identifies Jesus’ ultimate purpose: to redeem sinful humanity.
John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus clearly distinguishes John’s baptism from the baptism that Jesus will inaugurate. John baptises with water, Jesus will baptise with the Holy Spirit. John also puts his practice of baptism in the context of Jesus’ ministry - the purpose of John’s baptism was to make Jesus known to Israel.
John the Baptist’s sense of purpose is clearly identified in this reading: he baptised in order to prepare for and make known the ministry of the One who was to follow. John’s witness is an excellent example of what it means to be a disciple. By our baptism, we are called to make Jesus known to all the world by our words and by the witness of our lives.