Many times in many instances of our lives we need a witness to an event. Sometimes it’s about being a witness to our baptism or the sacrament of marriage, and sometimes very mundane situations in life force us to have someone testify to something for us. It even seems strange, but true, that God, Jesus Christ also needed such a witness. In the time of Jesus, it was John the Baptist, and today the witnesses of Jesus are us who fulfil his commandments and do the will of the Father. Sometimes, in this our doing God’s will and walking in His ways, we can collide with the paradox that John the Baptist faced. First, in the Gospel we heard, he clearly confesses that Jesus is Lamb of God, and then states that he did not know him. It may seem, that these words are surprising, even for this reason, that Jesus and John were cousins. And yet, not so long ago, we heard in St Luke’s Gospel that during Mary’s encounter with Elizabeth, the baby leapt in her womb. It was John who ‘recognised Jesus’ and was pleased to see Mary, who was in a blessed state. And now we hear that he does not know Him. John, who was a prophet, a man of faith and piety, knew many of the facts of Jesus’ life, but he did not know Jesus himself. He had not truly come to know Jesus. For there is a great difference between knowing the facts of a particular person’s life and knowing that person, knowing their behaviour, their thoughts, how they react and what they experience. John only experienced such a knowledge of the Person of Jesus when the Holy Spirit descended and rested come down on Jesus, at his baptism in the Jordan. This theology of St John, which is presented to us today by the evangelist, shows us how important it is for each of us to know Jesus Christ. And true knowing will lead us to witness to Him.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Blessed Charles de Foucauld found himself in the heart of the Sahara as the only Christian priest among the Tuaregs, followers of Allah, who by then had come to know Christians in the form of French soldiers conquering the various peoples inhabiting this part of Africa. In one of his letters he confesses how he is trying to become a witness to Jesus – here are his words: “My apostolate must be an apostolate of kindness. Looking at me, people must say: ‘Since this man is so good, his religion must be true’.” When someone asks me why I am gentle and good, I must answer them: ‘For I am the servant of a Better than me. I would like to be good enough to be told: “If such is the servant, what is the Lord?”. This begs the question for each of us: what is your Lord like? What is your image of God? What do I usually think when the priest shows the consecrated host, saying: ” Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb”. Do I see the living God in this white wafer of bread? Am I a witness to Jesus? Do I carry His goodness within me?