December 13, 2020
Last Sunday, we heard Saint John the Baptist proclaim a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, calling upon people to live the faith in word and deed, to prepare the way of the Lord (Mark 1:1-8). This Sunday, we read that Saint John the Baptist came to witness and testify to the Light, Jesus Christ, so that all might come to believe through Him ( John 1:6-8, 19-28). Saint John was not the Light, but testified to the Light, calling upon all people to make straight the way of the Lord. Later in the Gospel, Saint John even says of Jesus Christ: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
In today’s culture, it seems that many people are obsessed with being number one. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, for example, sports fans and athletes could often be heard chanting in stadiums and arenas nationwide, “We’re number one,” regardless of their team’s actual ranking. In our secular culture, the champion appears to be the only one who matters. The second-place finisher (no matter how valiant or deserving their play) is routinely relegated to obscurity, while the winner (no matter how unbecoming their conduct) is honored and remembered. And since there can only be one true champion, the competition can get rather intense, while there is also a tendency for a number of impostors falsely to lay claim to the title of being number one. We see this today, with some politicians and much of the elite media claiming victory in the midst of a presidential election plagued by suspect voting machines and clearly corrupted by election officials, governors and judges in some states who changed election laws that can only be legally changed by state legislatures (the winner, according to the U.S. Constitution, is ultimately determined by 538 electors of the Electoral College when they cast their ballots based on the legal votes of U.S. citizens from their states, which are then received and certified by the U.S. Senate and U.S. House).
If Saint John the Baptist were to follow the example of our corrupted sports and politics, he would have claimed the title of “champion” when asked if he were the Messiah. All Saint John had to say was “yes sir, that’s me, the messiah.” Instead, he spoke the truth, relegating himself to at least number two, stating that he didn’t even deserve to untie the Champion’s sandal strap. Surely John understood the risk of not being number one, that he was inviting the crowds to forget him. In his humility, however, Saint John teaches us that unlike the secular culture’s views on first-place and second-place finishers, there is only one True Champion, and that by making Jesus Christ “number one” in his life and in our life, we actually will never be forgotten or lost.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help us to have the wisdom of Saint John the Baptist so that we may willingly and joyfully proclaim and give witness to You by our words and deeds. Please help the leaders of the Church and our country to embrace integrity, truth and honesty. Help us all to live the faith that You have given us, to stay close to You in prayer, in Your Church, Word and Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist, mindful of Your communion of saints. By Your grace, help us to humbly follow You, dear Jesus, the one True Champion, all the way to Life Eternal in Heaven. Amen.
With peace and prayers in Christ,