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The Spirit Knows
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.
Opening Prayer: Lord, you entrusted John the Baptist with a big job in your plan of salvation. Open my ears to hear his eyewitness testimony with a fresh perspective and let it penetrate my soul like never before.
- It’s You!: When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming towards him, there was nothing in the Lord’s bearing that hinted at his divinity. Jesus’s ministry was still nascent. He hadn’t even assembled disciples yet. How did John the Baptist know to proclaim Jesus the “Lamb of God” and “the Son of God”? The Gospel passage tells us that the Spirit prepared John for this moment. “I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me…” The Lord walks into my life 100 times a day “disguised” as a friend, neighbor, or colleague. I will best recognize him and love him as he deserves to be loved when I’ve tapped into the Spirit beforehand. Prepare me, Lord, to encounter you often during this busy day as I spend these quiet moments praying.
- My Reason for Living: Modern psychologists would call John a self-actualized man. He knew his mission and purpose, and applied his talents and skills to accomplish it. His life coach probably would have discovered that John had excellent moral intuition, a strong sense of realism, and a fearlessness of the unknown, as do self-actualized men today. But, because John drew his purpose from pleasing God and doing God’s will, John also became a saint. I want to imitate John and seek my fulfillment by recognizing that my primary purpose is to know, love, and serve God unwaveringly. I want to live Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”
- God Knows Before We Do: The Lord told John the Baptist how to recognize him before he came to the river for his baptism. In the same way, the Spirit sometimes prepares us during prayer for future blessings or trials. Twenty years ago, I arrived home from my first weekend retreat to the news that my mother had cancer. She died shortly thereafter. I continue to thank the Lord for the blessing of having gotten to know him so intimately just before this trial entered our lives.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, the best moments of my day are those where you make your presence known to me in one of a thousand ways. Thank you for meeting me in my little reality. I praise you with a heart full of gratitude.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will actively look for you, listen to what you ask me to do through the messengers I meet, and act promptly, whether I’m asked to do something small and invisible or something that costs me.
For Further Reflection: Read what Saint Josemaria Escriva has to say about docility to the Holy Spirit.
Maribeth Harper celebrated paying the last tuition bill for her kids’ college by writing a book to encourage moms who have college-aged young adults, “And So We Pray.” She blogs about parenting adult children at andsowepray.com and is a wife of 35 years, mother of four, and grandmother of six and counting.