The Gospel of the Day – 2017.01.15
Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I spoke of when I said: A man is coming after me who ranks before me because he existed before me. I did not know him myself, and yet it was to reveal him to Israel that I came baptising with water.’ John also declared, ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptise with the Holy Spirit.” Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God.’
The Gospel of John was written more than one hundred and twenty years after the death of Jesus. None of its authors knew Jesus, or John, and not any of them knew anyone who knew them.
Like all of the other Gospels, John was not written by a single person. It was written by a community of people, and more than any of the other Gospels, it was written as propaganda. It was written with the intention of arguing for that community’s beliefs about who Jesus was, what the weaning of his life was, and what his death meant to the believers, to the world and to the entire creation.
By the time Johannine Gospel is written, the early church no longer has any concern about ameliorating John the Baptist’s followers. The ethnic Jews in John’s community had either become Christians, or they were considered by the community to be enemies of the Church.
John’s Gospel is overwhelming concerned with depicting Jesus as the cosmic savior. Jesus is the Word of God, who takes away the sins of the World. Jesus is God.
When John the Baptist encounters Jesus, he provides witness for this. The Baptist does not Baptize Jesus, as in the other Gospels. He himself is at the work of baptizing. When he sees Jesus approach, he announces to his followers that Jesus has come, a man greater than himself, one who existed before him (even though he was born in time after him), one on whom the Spirit of God rests, one who will complete the baptism of every believer, because he will baptize the Holy Spirit, and not mere water.
This was the crowning achievement of the early Christian propaganda. Through this vehicle they transformed the man, Joshua son of Joseph, into the being through whom the entire universe come into existence.
And this is fine, but it must be understood for what it is, as the expressions of faith, and hope, not the recitation of history and fact.
2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time