Ninth Day of Christmas

January 2, 2019 / By: Msgr. Martin Schlag

1 Jn 2:22-28/Jn 1:19-28

St. John the Baptist undergoes a bureaucratic interrogation by people who are not personally interested in their own conversion – they have been sent, and work for others. They want to check boxes, and look at John the Baptist through the lens of their own narrow categories. That is why they can neither understand who John is nor as whose precursor he has been sent. “There is one among you whom you do not recognize”, announces John. But they have no idea whom he is talking about.

Do we recognize Jesus? Can we recognize Him in the events of our daily lives, in the persons we meet, and in the perhaps unexpected things that happen to us? Do we perceive him in the needs and sufferings of those near us?

St. Josemaria liked to meditate on Christ who passes by on the path of our lives, as he passed the blind man Bartimaeus in Jericho. Bartimaeus grasps the occasion – he, the blind man, can recognize Christ, whose true identity others cannot behold. He shouts, shrugs off the criticism of the bystanders, throws off the coat, and runs toward Jesus. As reward for his faith and energy he receives his eyesight, and follows Christ as His disciple.

Greek mythology knew two representations of time: Chronos and Kairos. Chronos was depicted as a fat man who was fast asleep, waiting for the end of times when he would consume all things. He represented linear time. Kairos, in contrast, is the opportune moment, the right time or occasion. He was depicted as a young athlete, in the middle of a race. He was naked, as athletes were at that time, and had a head that was completely shaven except for a lock of hair, where you could grasp him. Kairos, the opportunity, passes quickly, it runs past, but we can grasp it. Jesus starts his public ministry with the words: “This is the time (kairos) of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Even today, many times, these are His words to us.

Msgr. Martin Schlag
Professor, Catholic Studies, Ethics & Business Law