TIME magazine’s 2012 person of the year award went to the “Protester,” whose picture was put on the cover. The “Arab Spring” events as well as the “Occupy America” movement were big news . But what was it that was being protested?
The protestors felt that a major message had to be proclaimed and the best way they thought it could be done was to proclaim loudly the major message. In today’s Gospel (Mk. 1:1-8), John the Baptist is proclaiming loudly the major message of Jesus’ coming by protesting loudly.
And the “message?” Well, one has to see it from a historical perspective in order to understand it more completely. This means seeing the coming of Christ in the past, the present, and the future.
Regarding the past, the Baptist uses a quote from the prophet Isaiah speaking (several centuries earlier) of one who is to proclaim the coming of the Lord. With regard to the present, John accepts the fact that Jesus is already among them about to be baptized and then begin his work. Concerning the future, I dare say that when the Baptist spoke of Jesus baptizing others with the “Holy Spirit,” we could understand the reference not only to the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit on Pentecost to continue the work of Jesus after his Resurrection and Ascension, but also to the rest of us baptized to continue Jesus’ work as well.
How can we be “protestors” in this day and age? Above all, we must proclaim loudly the presence of Jesus among us now, and that we can better undersand that presence if we utilize the historical perspective.
Perceiving the presence of Jesus in the past would be to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Every year we focus on the fact that Jesus (Immanuel in Hebrew means “God with us”) has come to us historically. In the present, we become more conscious of our Baptism where we received the Holy Spirit, and provide good example with our words and deeds. In the future, we believe that Jesus will come again and see how we have become good “protestors.”