Who Among Us Is Holy?

He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’
I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John 1: 30-31

Whether you enjoy magic tricks or not, most of us at one point or another have been entertained by a magician and found ourselves wondering,“how does he or she do that?” Today some magicians remind us that, technically speaking, they should be called Illusionist. They give the illusion of magic that isn’t really there. Rather, what they do is sleight of hand by redirecting our attention, or some other illusion that can make us suspend our disbelief as if magic was real. Today’s Gospel might feel like deja vu all over again. We did celebrate the baptism of the Lord last week. So we might find ourselves asking okay, why do we have the same gospel? Except that we don’t. It’s something of an illusion.
If you listen to John’s gospel or tonight or tomorrow at some point if you go home and read the first chapter of John’s gospel you will notice John never mentions Jesus being baptized. It’s kind of a sleight-of-hand by the author of the fourth gospel. He has John the Baptist talk all around Jesus’s baptism I’m all but he never actually has John baptizing Jesus. It’s not there. What’s that all about? We tend to follow the path of Mark and Matthew and Luke. And so, we think of John as the Baptist. But in the Gospel of John, he is probably more accurately called John the witness, or Jonathan testifier. John is more interested not in the baptism of John the Baptist or John the Baptist baptizing he is interested in John the Baptist as the one who’s giving testimony. And what is John’s testimony have to do with us?
Well there’s an old preachers story, and I’m sure a lot of you have heard it, at least some version of it. I’ll tell this one. There is a religious community that is filled with dissension. All kinds of backbiting, conflict, you walk down the corridors and you can feel the tension in the air. And one afternoon a man who is making a pilgrimage from monastery to monastery and knocks on the door. He asked if he can spend the night with his this community and of course they allowed to do so and during the evening meal he stands up and makes a rather remarkable declaration. He announces at the evening meal that in this community is someone who’s very holy, someone who one day will be regarded as a saint.And, of course, the members of the community are stunned as they spend the next several days thinking, each one to themselves, “Who? Who in our community might this be? Who would be so holy? Is it Brother Bob, who I find is irritating as a mosquito bite; or perhaps it’s Brother James who I’m constantly arguing with because I disagree with everything he says; or is it Father Gary, who’s never on time for anything?” And soon the entire Community is transformed not knowing who among them is this holy person, they begin to treat each other with the utmost kindness and respect, overlooking faults and mistakes ,discounting disagreements. And overtime this community becomes very well-known for its talents, its charity its holiness.In our second meeting we heard Saint Paul say to us, “to you who have been Sanctified in Christ called to be holy with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” We have been sanctified in our baptism and we are called to be holy, to claim our own intrinsic holiness, to see ourselves as holy, and to recognize the profound holiness of one another. And whenever we do that, we like John the Baptist, are giving our testimony to Christ Jesus.