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On John the Baptist, Elements of Christology, and Symbols of Christ
sun jan 15, 1pm | large meeting room, downstairs in the Rectory

Download the Handout (PDF)

We hear a fair bit about who John the Baptist was but the opening question for our seminar is: Who is he for us today — in the Church, in relation to Christ, in our understanding of God — and how can his life of service and preparation inform our approach to our own lives?
From there we turn to the Gospel reading from Sunday to look at the Baptist’s statement about "the Lamb of God," consider the use of symbolism in the Church and in popular piety, and introduce some basic elements from a special area of theology known as "Christology."


John 1:29 - 34

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 heaven 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."

Isaiah 53:5, 7

But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed. Though harshly treated, he submitted and did not open his mouth; Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth.

Collected from the Catechism

John the Baptist is "more than a prophet." In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the "voice" of the Consoler who is coming. As the Spirit of truth will also do, John "came to bear witness to the light." In John's sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of "the divine likeness," prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ. John's baptism was for repentance; baptism in water and the Spirit will be a new birth.

Pope Francis on John the Baptist (2014)

John was a man who prepared the way for Jesus without taking any of the glory for himself. John was just “a voice” who had come “to prepare the way of the Lord.” Just before his death in prison, John is filled with doubt and sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he really is the chosen one. John is humiliated through his death but also in the darkness of his doubts, yet he remains a model for Christians today.

We too must prepare the way of the Lord, we must discern the truth and we must diminish ourselves so that the Lord can grow in our hearts and in the souls of others.

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