The day before baptizing Jesus, John was anxiously questioned by a group of officials as to his identity and his intentions.
He was both a popular and an effective speaker and clearly no supporter of the status quo. He assured them that he was not the promised messiah but rather what we might call, his advance man.
He also told them that after centuries of anticipation, the messiah, the spiritual and political hope of all Israel, was here and now in their midst.
So, how did John know this and did he, in fact, know who the messiah was?
John was clearly a mystic, a man of prayer who lived a monastic life. What prompted him to abandon his desert life in order to preach the imminence of a new age?
We can only assume that his sensitivity to the urging of the Spirit would cause him to respond instantaneously.
He was the last of the great prophets and no less inspired than the best of them. His was the last foot in the Old Testament and the first in the New.
The gospel suggests that it was only a matter of hours before John, as he pursued his vocation by the river, recognized his cousin Jesus purposely coming toward him.
At that moment it was revealed to him that Jesus was the Christ he had been waiting for.
Suddenly it all made sense. It was Jesus! Jesus who had been part of his life from the beginning.
Later he was to say: I did not know him as anything else but God made him known to me so that now I can testify that he is, indeed the Son of God. He is Godís supreme revelation.
John's monumental task was to convince all of us that Jesus was an integral element in the created universe from the very beginning. There is only one Jesus Christ and he is true God and true man.
It is interesting that John began his Gospel with the same words as did the author of Genesis. "In the beginning..." And that all that follows in the rest of his text, all 19 chapters, was written as he himself said: "In order that you might hold the faith that Jesus is the Son of God."
Nothing we accomplish in our lifetime can be more important, more significant, more rewarding than responsibly holding the faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.