“When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
In today’s Gospel Jesus calls out the chief priests and elders for not recognizing John the Baptist for the prophet that he was. With the 20/20 hindsight of history we know that they won’t recognize Jesus either.
While we wait in anticipation for the coming of the Christ child in less than two weeks the question is whether we’ll recognize Him or not. It’s easy to see the baby in the manger and say “That’s Him.” Or to see Him hanging on the cross and say “That’s Him.” But what about when we see Him in less obvious circumstances.
Henri Nouwen, the famous Catholic writer who died in 1996, wrote a book called Gracias! A Latin American Journal. Here’s what he wrote about this season we call Advent:
“It is Advent again. In his sermon this morning, Oscar Uzin said: ‘Be alert, be alert, so that you will be able to recognize your Lord in your husband, your wife, your parents, your children, your friends, your teachers, but also in all that you read in the daily papers. The Lord is coming, always coming. Be alert to his coming. When you have ears to hear and eyes to see, you will recognize him at any moment of your life. Life is Advent; life is recognizing the coming of the Lord.”
As a preacher of the Gospel, I wish I could say that I always practice what I preach, especially since I took a vow to do just that. But you know what? As I read and reread this quote it occurred to me that I have never really thought about seeing Jesus in my children. And I’m embarrassed to tell you that. I’m not somebody who enjoys admitting when I’ve made a mistake. But I’m telling you because maybe you haven’t either and you might learn something from my mistake.
I suppose it’s because our kids are our flesh and blood, we’re supposed to be older and wiser than they are. We may see Jesus in a stranger. But in our own kids? Not so much. I suppose it’s the same reason that my kids don’t seem to see me as an ordained member of the Catholic clergy. They know me too well. They know all my faults. I’m just their dad.
So maybe this reflection will cause you to take a new look at your own kids and grandkids. See them through the same eyes that will draw your attention to the nativity scene in just a few days. I know I will. After all, we are Christ for one another. All of us.