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A knowing that can only come from God

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A

  • 3-6 year olds

This Sunday, once again we hear about John the Baptist. Some of you may know that John the Baptist is a cousin to Jesus. St. Luke tells us that Jesus' mother, Mary, and John the Baptist's mother, Elizabeth, are cousins (Luke 1:36). That means their children are cousins, too. So, it seems a little odd that John the Baptist says,

I myself did not know him

He doesn't know his own cousin? How can we understand this?

We can understand this in a couple of ways. Jesus grew up in Nazareth in the region of Galilee (Luke 2:39-40), while John the Baptist's family lived in the hill country of Judea (Luke 1:39). These areas of Israel are not near each other and a journey from one region to the other would take days and days. (Remember, this is long before cars! Everyone walked.) So Jesus and John the Baptist may have met only once or twice with years and years in between meetings, and so they just may not recognize each other.

It is also possible that the writer of the Gospel wants it to be very clear that John the Baptist is not just showing off his buddy and cousin. When he says, "I did not know him," he means, "I knew that someone was coming, but I didn't know it would be Jesus."

So, before Jesus came to be baptized, what did John the Baptist know? God had told him that,

“He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”

I wonder if John the Baptist understood what that would mean? Maybe he only understands when Jesus comes to be baptized and he sees the Holy Spirit descend like a dove.

However, after the Holy Spirit comes to rest on Jesus, he knows something new. Now he can say,

this is the Son of God

How does he know that? Who is the only one who could tell him? 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 on us; oil that is full of the Holy Spirit is slathered on us. The Holy Spirit rests on us, too, and gives us that knowing that can only come from God.

What do you know about God?

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