Opening Question: Have you ever played “Hide n’ Go Seek?” When was the last time you played? Did you win? Were you it? What happened?
First Reading: Isaiah 49:3,5-6
When I was six years old, I lived in Denver, Colorado. Because Denver is in the center of the country and sits a mile up in altitude, the summer sun was bright until it set about 9 o’clock at night. Every evening in June and July, my brothers and sisters and I would rush through dinner, wash the dishes, and run outside to play Hide n’ Go Seek with our friends in the neighborhood.
The rules were simple. The front of our house was base and the entire block on our side of the street was fair. No one could cross the street, however. The only safe way was to run around the block.
This was tricky because everyone knew what would happen. As the person who was ‘It’ counted to 100, kids would run up the street, around the corner, back down the other side, try to sneak by neighbor’s house who lived behind my house, run around the corner, and make it back to base. Many times the strategy worked. Most of the time it did not.
Sometimes, kids found a hiding place or a strategy that was new. Sometimes, kids were out until after dark when it was time to come in, time to go home for the night. The person who was it would grab a flashlight to show the way and go around the block yelling “Aulie, aulie, oxen free!” as a sight the game was over. The person who played ‘It’ was responsible for showing the “lost” kids the way home.
In God’s plan, Isaiah played ‘It’ for the people of Israel. He went out calling all the people to come home to God. He was the light that God used to bring the people home in the dark. Like Isaiah, Jesus was a light to his people and to us. When we are lost or in a dark part of life, Jesus comes to show us the way back to God.
Bridging Question: Have you ever suddenly understood an idea? Have you ever said, “WOW! I got it!”?
Gospel: John 1:29-34
John the Baptist told the Jewish leaders he was not the Messiah. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him. “Look!” John told the people. “There is God’s Lamb! He will forgive the world’s sins!”
“This is the person I was talking about when I said, ‘A man will show up after me. He has far more important than me because he was first in God’s eyes even before I was born.’ I didn’t know who the man was at first. But I came to baptize people with water so everyone in Israel could realize who he really was.”
Then John told everyone, “God sent me to baptize the people in water. I didn’t know who I was looking for until God told me, ‘You will see my Spirit come down on and stay with a certain person. He will baptize people in the same Spirit.’ Well, I saw God’s Spirit come down like a dove from heaven. And it stayed with him. So, I have seen what happened and I tell you now. This is God’s Son!”
In cartoons, a light bulb appears over someone’s head when they get an idea. In real life, people who get the idea will stop in their tracks, get wide eyes, and say “WOW!” The mind which is dark with ignorance, becomes bright with an idea.
How many times were you frustrated understanding something, only to get excited when you understood it? That’s what happened to John the Baptist.
John baptized to help people change their lives and prepare for God’s Kingdom. In his heart, John knew it was coming, but he did not know when or how. Sometimes, John must have gotten frustrated with the people he baptized and with God. “I can’t believe some of these people,” John could have said. “So many people. Not all of them could really want to change. Some of them are just doing this because it is popular.” John could have also complained, “God! You promised this great new world with a great new leader. Where is he?”
Then, John saw Jesus, and everything made sense. “Look! There he is!” shouted John. Like a light that had gone off in John’s head, he knew the great leader had come. And he knew why Jesus had come. To take away people’s selfishness and hurt. To give people God’s power to love each other. He was God’s Lamb and Spirit giver. This was truly God’s special Son.
When we believe in Jesus, we know he forgives us and gives us the power to love others. We just need to get the idea, to have the light go on in our hearts, and to act like Jesus did.
Closing Question: How can you help others know who Jesus really is?