Tell me who you are, cause I really want to know.”
Pete Townsend wrote these lyrics in the seventies for a group called The Who. I guess The Who needed to know who The Who were. And I seriously doubt he ever thought these lyrics would find their way into a Catholic homily. Who knew?
How often in life do we struggle with “who are you”? We go through life all too often with many people at school, work, every week at Church and often we don’t know each other. But I’m also talking about those we may even be familiar with. How do we know them, by what they do or who they are?
Throughout my formation in the Permanent Diaconate, my director and my instructors would remind us: it’s not what you do but who you are. It took a long time for me to truly understand this; but it is indeed who you are.
As people of faith who are you? And who is Jesus to us? Do we recognize Him as he comes toward us?
In our liturgy today we find ourselves in Ordinary Time. The all too familiar green is back and the readings now focus on the public ministry of Jesus. Today the Church gives us a glimpse into the Gospel of John the Evangelist to build upon Matthew’s account of the Baptism of Jesus celebrated last week. John the Baptist has already baptized Jesus when he sees Him again. Scripture says Jesus is coming toward him. In his excitement and joy, John the Baptist declares boldly: Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. The Baptist explains that he witnessed the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus and remaining with Him. Boldly prophesying The One who is to come, He is now here and John the Baptist declares who is Jesus, not by what He does but who He is: The Lamb of God. And by boldly declaring that Jesus is the Lamb of God he reveals to all people in every time that Jesus is the Savior of the World. In the words of this passage, John the Baptist gives us a model to follow: recognize Jesus by who He is and boldly proclaim it for the world to know.
How do we recognize Jesus? Certainly we recognize Him in the ordinary gifts of bread and wine as they become His Body and Blood. And we recognize Him in ordinary words that truly are the Word of God, the Word that was in the beginning and the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. But do we recognize Jesus in each other, our own family and friends and in those we may not think about every day? Ordinary people but created in the image and likeness of God. Do we recognize Jesus in the poor and marginalized, the elderly and the lonely, the unborn baby, the patient in hospice, the prisoner and the homeless? Do others recognize Jesus in us?
From the “who we are” then flows naturally the “what we do”. Because if Jesus is recognizable in others and in us we will respond generously when confronted by poverty, hunger, injustice, illness, and tragedy. If Jesus is recognizable in others and in us we too will respond with love, friendship, warmth, hope and joy.
I mentioned earlier we are now in Ordinary Time. This week, be extraordinary. Ordinary Time is a season of the Church. The extraordinary mission of Jesus Christ is alive and active even in Ordinary Time. By being who we are; the reflection of Jesus for others; be extraordinary. Tell someone this week you love Jesus. Tell someone this week you love your Catholic faith. Tell someone this week that Jesus loves them as He loves you too.
John the Baptist recognized and knew who Jesus is: The Lamb of God. Recognize and know Jesus so others may recognize and know Him too.
It’s not what you do but who you are!
Who are you, who, who, I really want to know; who are you?