REMEMBERING THE JOHN THE BAPTISTS IN MY LIFE (John 1:6-8, 19-28): 14 December 2008 (Third Sunday of Advent)
Today I recall the John the Baptist’s in my life, people whom you sent to me to show me the way to you. They have been many–too many to name here: family members, religion teachers, college professors, retreat masters, Jesuits and other religious… Today I’d like to mention three.
As you know, my first teacher in faith was my sister, Rosita, who held her catechism classes every day as we rode the car to school. Rumors have it that she was a frustrated nun–that she wanted to get herself to a nunnery, but didn’t obtain our parents’ permission. Each morning, as we tried to keep awake in the car, she held up her Illustrated Bible and told stories about Moses, David, and you (I suspect now that for catechetical reasons, she was secretly delighted when the traffic was bad).Worse, she quizzed us on the Ten Commandments and all the other things Catholics were expected to know by heart. Years later when I was in high school, I won the top prize in a Catechetical Knowledge Contest, and of course I knew I had my sister to thank for that.
After my sister, I met my first real religion teacher in Grade 3, when I was moved from a Chinese school to a Catholic school. I still remember the first day she walked into class. She stood in front of us, closed her eyes, and knitted her eyebrows and totally without shame, prayed in the sincerest of tones: “Jesus, I love you! I ask you to be with us today!” I remember looking around the class bewildered, wondering who she was talking to! My grade 3 teacher Lulu taught me and showed me that you were real.
Fast forward to many years later, my spiritual director, Father Benny. He was a quiet man, whose eyes looked at you in a way that made you feel that he could read your heart and mind. Many legends surrounded Father Benny–the way he could help you make sense of your complicated self. True enough, I remember one of our first sessions, when after listening to me go on and on about myself, my life, and my difficulties, he asked me one simple question that made me see and understand. It was an A-ha moment: I recognized you in my life.
Lord, I want to thank you for these three persons–and the many other John the Baptists in my life. They pointed to you, and in different ways they told me: “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Without them, without their wisdom and their love, I would never have found you–and I would never have found myself.
Today, you invite me in my own way to be a John the Baptist too. Help me to talk about you in a way that will show your truth to others. Help me to do my work so that others may appreciate your beauty. And finally, help me to live my life so that I will let your goodness shine through.
If you feel up to it, share a Quick Prayer here.