“There is One Among You Whom You Do Not Recognize”
We are accustomed to the figure of John the Baptist joining the images
which color the days of Advent. John’s message focuses on preparation;
he announces the Christ who is coming. So it may come as a surprise
to see John appear in this post-Christmas period. But even more than
his appearance, his message startles us: “There is one among you whom
you do not recognize.” No future Christ, but a present Christ, a Christ
whom we do not recognize. This message of the Baptist seems to speak
to our hearts today: Jesus Christ is here; but do we see him, do we
recognize his presence? The message encourages us to seek, to look,
to search. But how shall we do that?
The saints honored in today’s prayer, Basil and Gregory Nazianzen, were
born in the same year and, by God’s grace, became great friends and remained
great friends throughout the twists and turns of their own lives.
They were friends of a particular sort; their friendship was rooted in their
relationship with God. A letter of Gregory’s captures this driving
force that drew them together: “Our great pursuit, the great name
we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.” We may
imagine that this graced friendship helped both to see God in one another’s
With eyes that struggle to see the presence of Jesus in daily life, our
friendships can help us to see, to recognize the face of Jesus there.
Who are the friends, near and far, long-standing or newly found, who have
revealed the face of Jesus to me? Our best response to God’s word
today may be a prayer of thanks for those whose friendship with us has drawn
us to see, to recognize the face of Jesus in our lives.