Friday of Week 3 of Advent – Gospel

Commentary on John 5:33-36

Today’s Gospel comes from John and, like those of previous days, the passage speaks of John the Baptist.  Again we see Jesus paying tribute to John the Baptist.  Jesus recognises that the Baptist bore witness to the truth, although it was a purely human testimony.  In Jesus’ case that is not so: “Not that the testimony which I receive is from man”.  Jesus speaks on a totally different level.  As we saw, he speaks with authority, an authority of which he is the only source.

Nevertheless, John “was a burning and shining lamp and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light”.  This reflects what was said at the beginning of John’s gospel, in his Prologue.  There it is said that the Baptist was not the Light, but came to give witness to the Light.  Later, Jesus will declare that he is the Light of the world.  The Baptist would never make such a claim.  He was not worthy even to untie the sandals of Jesus.

So, says Jesus, “the testimony which I have is greater than that of John.”  And he continues, “these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me”.   Jesus is a direct emissary of God.  He is the very Word of God.  And all that is clear from his carrying out the “works” which the Father sent him to do.

And all that begins from the moment that Jesus first appears as the tiny, helpless baby in the feeding box in Bethlehem.  In his very tiny-ness and helplessness, in his homelessness and poverty, he sends a powerful message to all of us.

We too, as John the Baptist was, are called to be “a burning and shining lamp” but our light is the reflection of the Light that is Christ.  We are the moon to his sun.  And we need to remember that, for most people, it is through the reflected light of his disciples that people are led to the experience of the Light that is Light.


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