Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Proper 13: Year 2
“John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know.” (John 1:26)
John the Baptist explains that among them stands one whom they do not know. I personally don’t think they even know John the Baptist; they have thought him to be the Messiah, Elijah and a prophet, all of whom John denies being. So they don’t even know John. But John tells them that among them stands one whom they have not even noticed. And Jesus is right there, in their midst. I often ponder that when John uttered these words if he was making eye contact with our Lord Jesus as he said it. I think if I were there and heard him say such words, I would follow his eyes to see if I could see who he was talking about.
One thing that this COVID 19 Pandemic has done is reduced us to social distancing to the point where, in our small groups, there would be no mysterious person among us. We know everyone in our group. No room for God Incarnate to ease up next to us. I am convinced that from time to time in my life, mysterious strangers have come to my aid, even when I didn’t know I needed help. But this doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit of Jesus couldn’t use those who are with us, no matter how small our group, even down to where two or three are joined together, He is with us.
We still need Jesus standing among us. Regardless of how Jesus might appear in our midst, his presence is always a blessing. Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, to be with us, in our midst. And I believe the Advocate is with us. So John’s words are still true. There is one among us whom we do not know. Sometimes our Lord Jesus speaks through others because we need to hear His actual words. Often, the speaker whom Jesus uses is unaware of what he or she is saying. The message is for us, not them. When this happens, we must learn to receive and accept the message as it comes, not from the person speaking, but from our Lord Jesus who uses who he chooses to ensure we are wholly, and holy, informed. Yes, often there is One among us whom we do not know. Jesus speaks to us, through us.
Making war against another is an evil, sinful act. Let us continually lift up Ukraine in our prayers. Let us hear the Spirit in our midst leading us to ways we can help end the pain felt in Ukraine.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John