WHO ARE YOU? THE TESTIMONY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST. Prayer Reflection for 3rd Sunday of Advent, Yr. B

Are you questioning who you are; what your purpose is, or what your values are? If you find yourself in this condition, then this message is for you because you may be going through what is called identity crisis. A young lady once told me during a counselling session that she does not know how to maintain a good relationship or choose the right person for marriage- meaning she does not have a sense of 'ideal' but anything goes. This is practical identity crisis. As simple as this may seem, many do not know who they are or what they need, and some that claim to know have false knowledge of their identities. And for this reason many live in confusion, without choices and sense of direction. But a perfect knowledge of one's identity connects one to his/her purpose, mission and destiny in life. If you are concerned and want to learn more about your identity read slowly...
John 1:19-28
This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied: a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord. Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’
POINTS FOR REFLECTION
1. Identity is the distinguishing quality, character or personality of an individual; while identity crisis is the failure to achieve ego identity or a failure to achieve self-esteem or self-importance of one's condition, quality or personality. Child of God, knowledge of your identity connects you to your purpose, mission and destiny in life, but a false or vague knowledge is the cause of identity crisis and the reason why many settle for fake identities or live fake lives.
2. In John the baptist we see a man who knows his identity, and that connects him to his purpose, mission and destiny as 'announcer' of Jesus. Even when he knew the confusion of the emissaries sent to him, he did not capitalise on that to appropriate to himself some privileged position or honorific identity as Elijah whom the Jews expects will return to prepare the way for the Messiah (Mal.4:5-6), nor did he claim to be a prophet (for he will be accorded more respect if he did because prophecy had seized in Israel for decades), nor did he claim to be the Messiah- the anointed one. Rather he stood his grounds and accepted his simple and humble state. But how did John know his mission and destiny, you ask me?
3. He calls himself 'a voice that cries in the wilderness' quoting the prophet Isaiah. To discover your destiny requires deep reflection, prayer and introspection into your life beginning from birth and extending to the present, cutting across every major event in your life.  Spiritually and physically we take up our identities the day we were named for naming is the first act that differentiates us and identifies us in the world beginning from the family where we take our roots. But many take names for granted and care less about the names they give their children. 
John the baptist knew these. The circumstances of his birth would have been narrated to him by his parents: the mysteries surrounding his name alongside the miracle of restored speech given to his father Zechariah whose voice ceased for nine months. He must have prayed, fasted and searched the scriptures to unravel these mysteries, and God opened his eyes to see himself as a symbol of 'God's graciousness' (meaning of John) that opens again the voice of prophecy after many years of silence. No wonder he identifies himself as 'the voice' prophesied by Isaiah that announces good news of God's graciousness to the returning exiles of Jerusalem.
4. Are you experiencing identity crisis? There are many causes: some are triggered by stress, but majority by incontinence- the inability to control oneself. Stress-caused identity crisis are solved by identifying the stress which may be loss of job, loss of loved one, failed marriage or relationships, financial crises, delay to marry, etc and reassuring yourself that these things are not end in themselves but accidents that don't define who you are. But identity crisis caused by incontinence such as: sexual incontinence that make you lose values or ideals like what you want in life or in a relationship; financial/economic incontinence that make you spend wastefully or live beyond your reach, must be combated by prayer and self-discipline.
TASK: Child of God, who are you? This question is very important. It is necessary for identification and acceptance no wonder Jesus asked his disciples: Who do you say I am? (Matt.16:15), and identifies himself as 'the anointed one sent by the Spirit to bring good news to the poor' (Isa. 61:1-2). For you to relate well with others you must know yourself. For you to recognised in his daily advents, you must know yourself. Now make a deep introspection of your life; where necessary ask your parents or someone who knows you well to evaluate you. Pray Psalm 139 and ask the Lord to lead you to self discovery. May the Lord you seek reveal Himself to you. Amen.

© Fr. SimOne Madu, OSJ 

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks padre for this reflection. This is wonderful and enriching. God bless you.

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