How do I know it snowed last night? Easy enough, I went outside and saw it snowing. How do I know that the earth is round? I’ve read it several times in various books and journals that are trustworthy. How do I know the 49ers are going to win the Super bowl this year? …well, it’s all over the internet! Okay that one doesn’t count! Why? Because there’s no credible authority…the internet says all sorts of things, proven true and proven false.
But so many other things that we know are known to us not by our own personal experience or knowledge, but rather, we know them because a certain authoritative, tested knowledge has been shared with us. I know the science of philosophy because of great philosophers sharing wisdom by their writings and teachings that I’ve been privileged to read and study. Some of you know the arts because great artists have influenced you in profound, spectacular ways. Some of you know how to play a sport or a musical instrument extremely well because you’ve had great and masterful coaches who have nurtured you with their abilities and skills. And many of you are fine parents because you have, in your own turn, learned from some of the best! This list can go on and on…we’ve all experienced great witnesses to a truth and we’re better because of their witness.
Well, in today’s gospel, John the Baptist knows that the Lord God has promised to reveal “the Lamb of God” to him and John rightly trusts God’s authority. John has been created from the womb for such a revelation and profound task and so, John, too, has become a credible authority. Thus, John tells his disciples about Jesus. Some of the future Apostles had originally been John’s disciples; they were there with him on the banks of the Jordan, helping him baptize, when he first pointed out who the Master was. They heard his testimony about Jesus, and because they could believe him, it sparked their interest, and so they went to meet the Lord for themselves. And the rest…is history.
Jesus chooses to use the testimony of those who believe in Him to draw others into His friendship. If John had kept quiet about what God had shown him, his disciples might never have found the Lord. Likewise, Christ is counting on us to introduce Him to others.
In our efforts to build Christ’s Kingdom, we can hardly choose a better model than John, who teaches us never to work merely for our own satisfaction or for the esteem of our peers. Our goal is Christ and our path is His will—and in the end, nothing else matters. We’ve received great and credible witness and knowledge of the Truth of Jesus Christ; in the same way, we now must become His witnesses.
My brothers and sisters, we possess a great wisdom within the Church. We hear of the teachings of great saints and the witness of great martyrs. We continually experience God’s holy Word come alive in our Scriptures proclaimed during Mass. We are the multitude of guests who have said “yes” to the invitation to enter into the banquet of Christ’s Body & Blood whenever we celebrate Holy Communion. And at the conclusion of every Mass, we are the people who are chosen to go forth and proclaim God’s saving gospel, by our words and by our works.
Let us then renew our appreciation for the wisdom that has been shared with us through God’s authority. But let us not bury it away where no one else will ever see it, or be privy to it, or fail to grow from it because we’ve failed to share it. Just as you and I always rely on gifted ones to share their gifts with us—teachers, coaches, instructors, pros—in order for us to grow in Truth and knowledge, so too is our own world, in our own day, awaiting the witness of our own authority which can rightly proclaim, “Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, and has mercy on us.”
May God’s blessings of grace be upon us as we take up such a holy task.