The Johns of our lives

3 January 2007: Wednesday before the Epiphany
1 John 2, 29- 3,6 & John 1, 29-34: The ‘Johns’ in our lives

In the public life of Jesus, many people did not recognize who Jesus truly was. Thus when the evangelists wrote the Gospels, they introduced Jesus to the people. The writers of the Gospels, especially John, presented Jesus at the beginning of their stories. The Gospel today from John tells us about John the Baptist who identified Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” And at the end of the passage, John would testify to the truth that “Jesus is the Son of God.”

In the first letter of John, the first reading today, he reminds us that we are truly ‘children of God.’ And that what and who we are. This disciple of Jesus was also the first one to recognize and believed in the resurrection. And at the Resurrection accounts on the Lake of Tiberias, John would tell Peter, “It is the Lord!” as they followed Jesus’ instruction to throw the nets into the sea for a great catch.

Both Johns --- John the Baptist, and John, the beloved disciple --- identified Jesus and helped others recognize Him at moments of darkness. Today, we shall identify who our “Johns” are in our lives. The “Johns” in our lives play pivotal roles when we experience darkness or hopelessness.

Chris Daniel M. Losa was a prenovice in Arvisu House when I was there. His article about the year 2006 in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Young Blood, January 2, 2007) caught my attention. His article was a rewind of tragedies: it began with December 2006 when much of Albay was without electricity (and that included my family); November was tragic with typhoon ‘Reming’ and Albay was in shabbles. The article ended with January when he and his brother Bryan celebrated the New Year watching the fireworks display at midnight. Two months after, Bryan met an accident on his way to Ash Wednesday mass. In his article, Chris becomes cynical with New Year celebrations and much, much, more. Is there really reason to celebrate when what is ahead are disappointments and tragedies?

The experience of Chris happens to us in varying degrees and intensities. There are those who are terminally-ill (Is believing in God the better way because one is left without a choice?), those who experienced loss (like some of my students whose parents died this year); those with financial difficulties like my family and many others in Albay. It would be difficult to identify and recognize Jesus when we are directly involved in a crisis. All the platitudes people say, like “everything happens for a reason” and “God might be communicating something to you,” are rendered useless and overly pious.

In the darkness, we grope for the light. The Johns of our lives --- a best friend, a family member, a counselor, etc --- come to you, not to give unwarranted and unsolicited advice, but to tell you where the light is, who Jesus is. Karl Rahner, SJ, once wrote about who Jesus is to us. He said that Christians know the definitive name of God, Jesus, “who is our helper.” These Johns do not just give comfort, but direct our gaze on the sole savior for those in greatest need.

*During the Christmas concert of our choir, Canto Cinco Music Ministry, they gave candles to their "Johns". This is Herbie's girlfriend. Some gave their candles to their families.

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