2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): Knowing That Can Only Come From God
(Adults, you could begin by lighting a candle and reading the Word of God to your child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection, then proclaim the Word, then return to the reflection.)
Once again, this Sunday, we hear about John the Baptist. We might remember that John the Baptist is a cousin to Jesus. Jesus' mother, Mary, and John the Baptist's mother, Elizabeth, are cousins (Luke 1:36). That means their children are cousins, too. In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus and John the Baptist are both grown-up men. Jesus has come to John to be baptized. The next day, when John the Baptist sees Jesus, he says something odd.
The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!...I myself did not know him
It seems a little odd that John the Baptist should call Jesus "the Lamb of God." We wonder what this can mean. But we know that Jesus has many names—Good Shepherd, Light of the World, Immanuel, Prince of Peace... John the Baptist gives him one more.
What seems really odd is that John the Baptist says,
I myself did not know him
He does not know his own cousin? How can we understand this?
We can understand this in a couple of ways. Jesus grows up in Nazareth in the region of Galilee (Luke 2:39-40), while John the Baptist's family lives in the hill country of Judea (Luke 1:39). These areas of Israel are far from each other. A journey from one region to the other takes days and days. There are no cars. Everyone walks. So Jesus and John the Baptist may have only met once or twice when they were children. With years and years in between meetings, they just may not recognize each other now that they are grown. That is one possibility.
Here is another possibility. John the Baptist has been preparing people for someone to come. He knows God will send someone. But he does not know who it will be. When he says, "I did not know him," he means, "I knew that someone was coming, but I did not know it would be Jesus."
So what does John the Baptist know?
Before he baptizes Jesus, John the Baptist had been told by God that,
“He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”
We wonder if John the Baptist understands this. Perhaps he wonders what God means. Perhaps he thinks it is strange. Perhaps John the Baptist only understands when Jesus comes to be baptized.
“I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.”
after the Holy Spirit comes to rest on Jesus, John the Baptist knows something new. Now he can say,
this is the Son of God
How does John the Baptist know this about Jesus?
Who is the only one who can tell him?
This is a knowing that can only come from God.
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is knowledge—knowing things that only God knows.
When we are baptized, we receive the Holy Spirit, too.
Water that has been blessed by the Holy Spirit is poured over us.
Oil that is full of the Holy Spirit is slathered upon us.
The Holy Spirit rests on us, too, and gives us that knowing that can only come from God.
We might draw today what we know about God.