The people asked him, “What are we to do?” And John answered, “If you have two coats, give one to the person who has none; and if you have food, do the same.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and asked him, “Master, what must we do?” John said to them, “Collect no more than your fixed rate.” Then some soldiers asked John, “What about us? What are we to do?” And he answered, “Don’t take anything by force or threaten the people by denouncing them falsely. Be content with your pay.”
The people were wondering about John’s identity, “Could he be the Messiah?” Then John answered them, “I baptize you with water, but the one who is coming will do much more: he will baptize you with Holy Spirit and fire. As for me, I am not worthy to untie his sandal. He comes with a winnowing fan to clear his threshing floor and gather the grain into his barn. But the chaff he will burn with fire that never goes out.”
With these and many other words John announced the Good News to the people.
READ: Many people now go to John with their questions on how to live a holy life. Others began to speculate on his identity. John flatly rejects the notion that he is the long awaited Messiah: Another greater and mightier than he would come to fulfill the expectations of the ages.
REFLECT: Big projects and well thought of programs are the usual temptation for us when we are given the chance to work for the welfare of the people. It’s all about physical needs first. After all since human beings are embodied beings, the need to survive physically is an important component of their living a dignified life and their salvation. But to his surprise when he started active ministry John was not asked by people to put bread in their table or clothing to their back or shelter over their heads. He was asked for help on how to live a holy life, of what is right or wrong, or how to have eternal life. That is why John was led to the desert for his preparations. Before he dutifully proclaimed God’s word to others he needed to listen to himself and to God. This in turn enabled him to understand his proper place in God’s scheme. He was the bearer and not the Word that would liberate the world.
RESPOND: How do I react to playing second fiddle sometimes? Do I know where my responses come from? Perhaps being more attentive to my feelings and responses to situations of being at the center stage or at the margins will help me understand myself better.
PRAY: Lord, help me to realize that my worth is not found in whether I am at the center or not. May I be the same in any situation and rejoice only in the fact that I can help, whether I am the main actor or not. This we ask in your name. Amen.
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