2 January 2019. Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church
Reflection (Sem. John Reyman S. Dabuet)
As senior seminarians, we usually present ourselves to people in other communities or parishes outside of the seminary by saying our name, the dioceses to which we belong, and the former professions and the degrees we attained. Sometimes, we may be shy to tell people who we are now, or sometimes, we may also be proud of our identity as seminarians. For instance, last December, whenever we sang Christmas carols for parishes, communities and benefactors, we would introduce ourselves one by one. I was honestly shy to face people this way and introduce myself professing who I am now. I may be thinking of it as humility, but no, I believe that was false humility. For me, true humility would be that proud profession of your own identity, knowing in your heart that it was through the Lord’s mercy and goodness that you have become what you are now. One may proudly say, “I am a doctor in a specialized hospital,” or, “I am a lawyer in the Court of Appeals,” or another, “I am an Executive in an international BPO company” or another, “I am a professor in a prestigious university,” and acknowledge within themselves that it was by the grace of God that they are who they have become, then they are humbly professing their identities. True humility is what St. John the Baptist portrayed in today’s Gospel. He simply asserted that he is not Elijah, nor the Messiah, nor the Prophet. Rather, he professed who he really is: the voice of one calling in the desert, “Make straight the paths for the Lord.” He is God’s servant, the forerunner of Jesus, baptizing men and women through a message of repentance. As we fruitfully welcome this new year, may we imitate the humility of John by admitting to God that we are who we are now because He first loved us.
The Gospel Today
This is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted,
“I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.