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Father Muench Says...

An example for all followers of Jesus

Dec. 14, 2016

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

The Knights of Columbus showed up here at Church this morning to put up the larger manger scene on the lawn in front of the Church.  It is an annual ritual.  The Knights consider this their privilege and duty.  I imagine this happens in your parish also.

Here in our parish we have a rather nice little building and impressive statues.  The big decision each year is whether to place the image of the Baby Jesus in the manger now or wait until Christmas.

From now on, this manger will remind all passers by the meaning of Christmas – the Birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  The hope is that, in the midst of a busy day, people will notice the manger and a prayer will come to mind.

As they remember the Birth of Jesus, they will pray for their loved ones, especially those in need of prayer.
However, I know you have noticed that in our Advent Masses in Church, our attention has been on the relationship of Jesus and John the Baptist. 

I am certain that although it is not mentioned in the Gospels Jesus and John knew each other and spent time together as they were growing up.  They were cousins, after all.

I would love to know something of their conversations during that time.  In the Gospels we do read about their public ministry.  John the Baptist understood well his call to be the one to point out Jesus as the long awaited Messiah.  John was imprisoned but continued to lead his own disciples to discover Jesus.

I have often wondered how John’s disciples felt about all of this.  It must have been a difficult time for them.  They were dedicated to John the Baptist.  They loved him.  They were absorbed with his preaching and teaching.  They thought that he was the coming Messiah.  They didn’t want to desert him, now that he was being persecuted by Herod.

Yet, John knew and persisted in his mission.  So, he cleverly sends his disciples to Jesus to learn more about Jesus’ message and teaching.  They were to go to ask Jesus if he was the one who was to come.  Jesus’ answer was to remind them all that the Old Testament prophets had promised that the time of the Messiah would be like.  They knew their scriptures well.  They understood when Jesus went on to tell them about himself. 

Jesus says: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.  And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

John’s disciples find and understand something special in Jesus.  Jesus then makes it very clear to them how much he cared for John the Baptist; John was important and certainly made a tremendous difference in the beginning of Jesus’ presence in this world. 

His message to them and to us was too bring awareness of the coming of Jesus to this world of ours. 

So, John the Baptist becomes an example and model of all Christians and followers of Jesus.  Just as John called and dedicated himself to making Jesus known we are called to bring the presence and message of Jesus to our part of the world. 

As disciples of Jesus – as today’s evangelizers – may we bring Jesus to all who will listen to us, through prayer and action  just as John the Baptist did.  It is well that we notice that many throughout the centuries who walked in the path of John the Baptist would be ready to suffer for Jesus just as he did, even to give their lives.

Finally, Jesus gave this tribute to John, as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel: “This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.  Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none great than John the Baptist.’” 

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