Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: John 1: 29-34
Last Sunday as we celebrated the solemnity of Epiphany, Herod the king was part of the reading and part of our reflection. Today we have John the Baptist as the central character of our reading and reflection. They had a very striking similarity. Both perceived Jesus as their successor! Herod was convinced that the baby born in Bethlehem was to replace him as the king and got terrified. He was so terrified that he had zero remorse for killing scores of infants in Bethlehem.
John the Baptist witnessed heavenly signs assuring him that Jesus was the next. He was sure that he was ordained to prepare for, and proclaim the arrival of the Messiah. He did not feel threatened; he rather felt contented. It also meant he had to step aside and give way to Jesus. He did exactly that with unmatching nobility. We have a lot to learn from his nobility.
One hardly inherits nobility. It is a hard-earned virtue. One with a clear perspective of his or her role in the family and society has this noble virtue called nobility. Sticking around when it is time to step aside could be disastrous. The ancient Roman army was said to have a strategy of rotating their soldiers at regular intervals. They won battles because a fresh soldier would replace a weary soldier and would engage an already weary opponent, who had to continue battling owing to their poor strategy. Stepping aside is a winning strategy, skill, and an art.
Learn the art from the very masters, Jesus and John the Baptist. It is among the first skills to be mastered because any time could be the time to step aside. John was waiting for the sign and responded fast to the sign, and he did it gracefully. Are you ready to step aside like him?
The concept can be well understood from a family context. Parents who would not train their children to cook, clean, do the laundry, and do the shopping are parents unwilling to step aside. They don’t trust their children can do household chores, even if on a smaller scale. No wonder many young adults are afraid to step into family life!
If one does not trust his successor, it means he does not trust God who decided upon succession. Trust God who appointed your successor. Your successor may be different, do different things, and sometimes you may not understand the game plan; trust God who decided that you precede and the other succeed. Willing or otherwise one has to step aside; better step aside gracefully.
The Gospel throws light as to how one should succeed. Before commencing his mission Jesus goes to John the Baptist, bends his head before him, and humbly accepts baptism. And Jesus referred to him in high esteem (Lk 7: 24-28), and never wanted to insult him by any of his actions (Jn 3: 22-23, Jesus chose to baptize at a place with less water, leaving the place with more water for John the Baptist). Being respectful of predecessors in family, office, or traffic is a sign of nobility. Again, you succeeding someone and preceding someone else is part of the divine plan. If one can not trust the Divine plan, what else one can trust?
Learn the art and skill of stepping aside and letting in from the gospel we just heard. If you have any doubt ask Jesus, he will grant you enough faith.