A witness to speak for the light

In today’s Gospel reading, John the Evangelist introduces us to John the Baptist. We are told four times that John the Baptist is a witness. ‘He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light.’ Jesus will light up the whole world. The Baptist will prepare the way for him.

John makes it clear that his ministry is not about himself. He is preaching and baptising the people because God has called him, just as God called the prophets of the Old Testament. John is not speaking about himself; he is preparing the way for Jesus, who has not yet appeared in public. He is a witness to speak for the light.

John is the messenger foretold by the prophet Isaiah, who brings good news for the poor. We shouldn’t spiritualise this message; it has a practical, concrete meaning. It is a call to us, the disciples of Christ, to be good news for the poor, to ‘bind up hearts that are broken’ and to search for justice. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to be witnesses for Christ. The best witness that we can give is our care for others.

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