“KINSMAN TO CHRIST”
Saint John 1. 19-28
Rorate Coeli: 22 December Anno Domini 2013
Fr JW Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
Is this your record? If so, then who are you? What is your self-identity—your confession and profession of self? Are you an American, Patriot, Conservative, Traditionalist, or Confessionalist? Do you stand on your biological or social functions? Are you a Man, Woman, Husband, Wife, Father, or Mother? Are you White, Hispanic, African-American, or Asian? Are you a Capitalist, Communist, or Fascist? I don’t care. The Lord doesn’t care. He loves Socialists as much as you—you’re both thieves, but He came to forgive thieves—like Saint Matthew and Zacchaeus for example. He loves gays and hookers as much as He loves you. You’re all breakers of the 6th Commandment, but He came to forgive the sexually (and spiritually) impure—like David, the Woman at the Well, and the Magdalene. John 3. 16 is true!
This text isn’t about you. This record, these Sacred Scriptures, is not your record—if by “your” you assume you’re the star, hero, and center of the action. Yes, you are the object of the action but not the Subject. Scripture is the Lord on paper with pen—giving you the Lord’s Body and Blood, Mouth and Words, Heart, Soul, and Actions.
The Christ had been busy teaching with wisdom and authority—backed up by “signs,” mighty miracles, that hearkened back and reflected the LORD’S great miracles of Old Testament times. And now there was this Nazarene Rabbi—why, there had not been such mighty acts of physical deliverance in Israel since the days of the great Prophets…and Moses himself. Very soon Jesus would ask the “12” themselves Who they thought He was…but in today’s text, it’s the Baptizer’s stage as he is permitted to again point to the Lord, even as he slides off into the wings of the stage giving the Holy Spirit sole spotlight on the Paschal Lamb.
It’s the same today. If priests, and Levites, if pastors, televangelists, youth-leaders, CCR artists, district officials (sic), DCO’s, DCE’s, bloggers, podcasters, and self-appointed Confessional “Maharishi’s” don’t know the answer to the questions: “Who art thou,” when applied to both John and to Jesus…they should be ignored at worst, and resisted and driven out at best.
John’s confession must be the testimony of every pastor, parishioner and faithful Christian: “I am not the Christ.” There are no ministries based upon, or founded upon, personal charisms, gifts, private revelations, or self-calls. There are no independent churches or break-away groups. There is only the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church established by Christ. There are, to be sure, some administrative, historical, and ethno-political “hiccups” that have ruptured perfect outward unity, over the centuries, and we pray and strive for family unity; but the Church of the Scriptures; the Church as historically understood; The Church of the Creeds and the Councils, is One. The Church is One in understanding Christ’s identity and work.
John’s personal opinions about Judean society or the political realities of Herod and Caesar didn’t matter. My personal opinions on extraneous political issues don’t matter. All eyes, your eyes, must be directed to the Word. And when you’re just too lazy to read and digest the Word, then your head, like a mule must at least be turned to the Crucifix, to the Font (your + Baptisms), the Communion Rail and the gifts given out there/here!
They, the enemies of Christ, asked John if he was Elias come back to life. Whether they were mocking him or not (although Pharisees did believe in the resurrection of the dead) they at least demonstrated knowledge of the Greatest of Old Testament Prophets: Saint Elijah of Mount Carmel. So, how’s your knowledge of the Second Book of Kings?
John, in his old-man sinful nature, was as vain and conceited as anyone else. John had to resist the urge to exude or demonstrate personal superiority in his unique and greatest of missions. But by the Holy Spirit’s constraint John was able to recede and become less so that Jesus would become more, and be The focus and center.
Elias lived on in John like no other before, then, or ever to come. I know Dr. Luther…and Luther was no Saint John Baptizer. And still, John lives on today in the Word Made Flesh being proclaimed, applied, and fed into Christ’s family.
I AM, the LORD Almighty, lets His called and ordained bind and loose…and oh how Christ smiles in joy, and Angels sing, when one little lamb is found, and in repentance is loosed to be clothed and fed and given safety!
“I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness [I by virtue of my Office as a called and ordained servant of The Word] make straight the way of the Lord [repent and believe for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand], as said the prophet Esaias…as say all under-shepherds and presbyters (pastors) under orders from their Over Shepherd. Though your sins be as scarlet, I forgive you all your sins in the Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost. John baptized with water, Jesus baptized with Blood and Water; with Body and Absolving sighs and groans. I baptize with Jesus PRESENT in His Word and Sacramental Word.
Jesus Who was born of the Blessed Virgin a few months after John, Who arrived in a public ministry after John’s mission of God was initiated, is preferred before John, that is, was before John. As Christ said: “Before Abraham was, I AM.” The Son of God is eternally begotten and not made. The Word of God is not One Who “became” but is THE ONE Who always was. John was not worthy to untie the Christ’s sandal strap…true enough, but The Lord stooped His sacred Head to let John Baptize Him, wash your sins onto His innocent head, the Scapegoat Savior! Jesus ties upon John and upon all of you, His robes of royalty and salvific security; He stoops down to wash John’s feet along with the “12” along with yours, and He ties the latchets of your shoes because He allowed Himself to be stripped and beaten and crucified for your trespasses.
“These things WERE done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John WAS baptizing.”
These things are being done in Shawnee beyond the Kaw, where Christ is baptizing, loosing, and feeding.
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost