Monday, January 2, 2012

Not the Christ

“And 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.’” John 1: 19-20

Of all the things St. John the Baptist said as he prepared the way of the Lord, perhaps his simple declaration “I am not the Christ” was the most important. And it is a lesson for us as well because it is a declaration that each of has to admit in our own lives, perhaps many times over. To make this statement is to at the same time be filled with a sense of freedom as well as apprehension to some degree.

On the one hand, to admit that “I am not the Christ” is freeing because it allows us to let go of the control we try to hold onto in our own lives or in the lives of others. It allows us to relinquish everything to Jesus. I am not the one who saves, He is. I am not the one who will solve all of the problems in my life, He is. I am not the one who can change myself or others, but He can. In this freedom we can be more peaceful, more hopeful, knowing that everything does not ultimately depend on us, but on Him. It is much easier in life to be the “saved” than the “savior”. All we have to do is admit that we do not know everything, that we do not control everything, that we cannot do everything…and let go. This admission of His sovereignty is freeing. It allows us to be who we were created to be.

On the other hand, when we acknowledge that “I am not the Christ”, we also admit that we are not the Lord, but Jesus is. And so in this sense we are perhaps filled with a certain amount of apprehension or holy fear, knowing that when we admit that He is the Christ, we are saying that we will obey Him and follow His will. Part of the letting go of this statement is also letting go of the desire to do as we please when we want. We are saying that Jesus is the Lord of our lives, not us. We are saying that He is the one we will follow, not our desires. We are saying He is the one we will listen to, not our culture. This side of the declaration requires humility and reverence on our part. It also requires us to trust Jesus with our lives. It helps us to point others to Jesus and not to ourselves and our accomplishments. It allows us to see our place in the world and in God’s plan, without becoming overly inflated.

St. John the Baptist had a large following and he spoke Truth with conviction and he lived a radical lifestyle and people were attracted to that, as we all are, because we are attracted to greatness. But he also lived in the humble and freeing knowledge that he was not the Christ. His desire was not to gather followers, or to be known, or to become popular. His desire at all times was to point people to Jesus, the Savior and Lord of his heart, the One who would bring salvation, peace and joy to every human heart that accepts Him with the same declaration “I am not the Christ”.

Dear Jesus, grant me the grace to declare to myself and to others that “I am not the Christ”! Like St. John the Baptist, may my life and words only point to You, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

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