This week’s Gospel is centred around the figure of John the Baptist. With his description alongside Isaiah’s prophecy, he is himself positioned as a prophet: as God’s messenger. His role as the one who announces the Good News of the coming of the Messiah, and his esteem in Jesus’ eyes (“of those born of women there is no one greater than he” – Mt 11:11) makes him a remarkable and impressive figure. It would be hard to imagine the story of Jesus without John the Baptist pointing the way to his coming.
And yet, John himself describes himself with remarkable humility: he proclaims himself as not being worthy of even performing the lowest of tasks assigned to a slave: untying Jesus’ sandals.
I wonder what John’s view of himself might teach us about our own role as baptized Christians – as participants in the story of Jesus? This is not to suggest we are worthless or useless – quite the contrary! While we are each certainly valuable and beloved in God’s eyes, like John the Baptist, our own individual stories are made more profound as they are woven into in the larger story of Jesus; the one we all get to be a part of together.
As we continue to reflect on the second coming of Christ as part of our Advent journey, I wonder if we might reflect on our own role in this story, and how, like John the Baptist, we too might point the way towards Christ.