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December 7, 2014

A priest had an unusual painting of the crucifixion in his office. It showed John the Baptist with a long bony finger pointing to Jesus. One day a visitor asked, "Besides saying Mass, what is your main job?" The priest walked over to the painting and said, "I am that finger."

Do our lives point people to Christ? Or do they turn them away from Him? Before you answer, remember what Gandhi, the Father of the people in modern India, said, "I would have become a Christian if ever I had met one."  I’m sure he had met thousands of Christians, but he might not have met a Christian who was a true image of Christ.

The vocation of St John the Baptist gives the cue for this week focus. He prepared the people of his time for the good news Jesus was to bring them during his public life.  St John the Baptist was a chosen messenger of God. Our Lord found his first disciples among those who were influenced by the preaching of John, such as Andrew. He had trained them in ascetic practices and prayer; he urged those who listened to him to repent and have fidelity to God. It was St. John's privilege not only to baptize our Lord but to point him out as the Lamb of God to two of his own followers as Jesus passed by. St. John the Baptist encouraged these disciples to detach themselves from him and join our Blessed Savior.

Andrew, and probably John were the two disciples that followed Jesus. They spent the whole evening with him. Early the next morning Andrew brought his brother Peter along to meet Jesus. God was using him to recruit the future Prince of the Apostles and first Pope. The lesson is clear, God wishes all Christians to help bring people to know him. He wants, in the first place, Christians to be more committed to their own vocation and then, influence others. Parents would be first on the list of those who have it in their power to lead others to God. Theirs is the privilege and responsibility of setting their children's feet firmly on the road that leads to him. They do so by example and precept. Teachers and people in positions that influence others, such as those who work in the media; communications, the press, radio, T.V. and internet come next. Ordinary Christians can influence those among whom they work and live to come to know God or to add to their commitment to him. This idea has been expressed very tellingly by the phrase that “any one of us could be the only book about Christ which many people may ever read.” The way we live out our faith, the influence or religious faith has on our daily behavior, on our charity and concern is our greatest witness to Christ. We will never know how many we have drawn to him. We can safely leave the assessment and reward to him.  This week, a man went to see his friend in the hospital and asked his friend if he would like to see a priest.  Being not a baptized person, he hesitated at first, but agreed later.  I came to see him the next day and baptized him.  He had gone home the following night!  What a gift a Christian can do!

In this regard, Christians, especially Catholics, should learn from the Mormons.  They have the zeal and eagerness that Catholics don’t have.  Sometime ago, two young Mormon Missionaries (19 or 20 years old?) rang the bell of the rectory.  I was in the washroom.  They rang the bell a second time and a the third time.  Then they banged on the door until I showed up.  I told them I am a Catholic priest and have no intentions to join Mormonism.  But they still insisted they wanted to talk to me.  You know, I had much more training in the faith knowledge than they did and I was not afraid to discuss with them, but it was Friday evening and I just wanted to rest and prepare for the weekend.  So I said sorry and before they left they asked me if I wanted the Book of Mormons.

I pray with the intercession of St. John the Baptist that every Catholic be aware of their vocation that is to point Jesus to others.

Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus!