Together for Good

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

January 19, 2020 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - John 1:29-34

This Sunday the Church has slipped in a second account of the baptism of Jesus. This time we hear from John’s gospel. Biblical scholars tell us that this was the last of the gospels to be written down. There is general agreement that it comes from near the end of the first century. It shows how the church came to an ever clearer understanding of who Jesus was.

From Matthew’s gospel (written maybe 30 years earlier) we hear Jesus being identified as “the beloved son.” This week John states that Jesus is “God’s Son.” What this suggests is that the first Christians gradually (not all at once) came to realize and believe in the full identity of Jesus as both human and divine. How these two aspects of Jesus are connected remains a great mystery of Faith. That God, creator of all that is (and from recent science we know that this is a lot - as in billions and billions of galaxies and stars) came to our small planet to be one of us, live with us, speak to us and eventually die for us … well, that is no small matter. In fact, if we list all possible events that we might call “incredible,” the incarnation of God in Jesus has to be at the top of that list.


Jesus lived among us and major moments in his life are described in the gospels. That’s almost a miracle in itself. We know more about Jesus as an historical figure that any other person living at his time. We not only know generalities, but very specific events of his life, like his baptism. We also have a reliable record of many of his actions, particularly when he helped others in need, like the lame, the blind, the sick, the confused, the poor. As is said, he went about “doing good.”

Further we are blessed with an extensive record of what he said and taught as a rabbi. We have a wide assortment of parables and stories, like two of my favorites, “The Prodigal Son” and “The Good Samaritan.” We have lengthy accounts of his teachings like “The Sermon on the Mount” and “The Final Discourse at the Last Supper.” We have detailed descriptions of his painful passion and death. And certainly, last and not least, the various accounts of his life after the Resurrection.

We do well to think of all this as actions of God and not merely deeds and words of a good man. They are all God’s word to us. They are of singular importance in the history of humanity on Earth. God’s words through Jesus deserve not only our respect, but our serious thought because they are directed to us. Another way to think about the Incarnation of Jesus is that God went to great trouble to help us to be as good as we might be. Should not we want the same?

©David M. Thomas, PhD


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