Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Who is John? What is his identity? As we ponder these questions, it is deeply significant that we are hard-pressed to find a place in Scripture where this individual’s name is not accompanied by the epithet, the Baptist. This indicates very strongly that John’s role as baptizer is fundamental to who he is and what he has staked his entire life on.
This Sunday’s Gospel gives us a window into the importance of John’s fundamental role, as we hear John sum up his own mission with the words, “The reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” In other words, John’s act of baptizing is entirely rooted in making Christ known to Israel (and all the nations going forth).
Unlike the Baptism instituted by Christ, the baptism offered by John is not offered with the purpose of forgiving sins but, rather, for the distinct purpose of revealing Christ. In such a way, John’s identity as the Baptist rests upon his orientation toward making Christ’s own identity known.
Curiously enough, even though John’s entire identity rests on making Christ known, we hear him utter the phrase “I did not know him,” not once, but twice in this Gospel passage. How could one who “does not know” another be so critical in revealing that person’s own identity?
We have seen this dynamic occur once before… with this very same duo, in fact! Flashback many years to when John and Jesus were growing in the wombs of their mothers, Elizabeth and Mary. When Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth, to share the news of her pregnancy by the Spirit, John takes a resounding leap as a preborn child who has just encountered Christ for the very first time. Once again we ask, how could one so small who does not yet “know” Christ be so critical in signifying who Christ is?
This Sunday’s Gospel resolves a part of this tension as we see John’s holy abandonment to the movements of the Spirit become the instrument of his sight. As John recounts the baptism of Jesus, we hear no indication of Christ coming out and saying who He is. Yet, by the end of the passage, John has “seen” and can “testify” that Christ is the “Son of God.” The gap is bridged by John’s firm reliance and faithfulness to the Spirit’s direction, Who, as a dove, reveals Christ to John the Revealer.
From the first interaction between John and Jesus, we get a sense of how John was made to point to Christ. Today, the Spirit guides us alongside John to realize that in pointing to Christ we can come to know Him most intimately. Arriving at this knowledge gives us a glimpse into the mirror, as Christ’s soul and ours are paradoxically revealed to us, the revealers.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
How do you show and reveal Christ to others?
How has sharing your faith led you personally to a deeper relationship with Christ?
As John was the Baptist, what do you see as your role in relation to God and His Church?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Behold the Lamb of God."
"Come, Holy Spirit."
"Here I am, Lord."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with Lord bear fruit in you today?
As John was the Baptist, pray to the Lord today about what your role is in relation to Him and His Church. Ask Him how he wants to use you to help bring about the Kingdom here on earth.
Smartphone Lock Screen
The following image is here for you to save and use as a background or lock screen on your smartphone or device to help you carry today's Lectio Divina with you the rest of the day.
Today's prayer was prepared by Antonio Marchi, Program Manager for St. Joseph County Right to Life in South Bend, IN, and Jennifer Marchi, K-8 Resource Teacher at Mishawaka Catholic School in Mishawaka, IN.
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