“I myself did not know him”
Jesus and John the Baptist were cousins, and yet John says in today’s Gospel that he did not know Jesus. And even though he is Jesus’ older cousin, John says that “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” John was talking about something other than his biological relationship with his cousin Jesus. He was talking about his own personal growth in getting to know who his cousin Jesus really was.
I remember when I first read the late Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth trilogy, I was struck by what he said in his foreword:
“…It goes without saying that this book is in no way an exercise of the magisterium, but is solely an expression of my personal search ‘for the face of the Lord.”
Certainly in the past, but many people still today think of “the Church” as something static, like a kind of multinational corporation. Its doctrines and practices are clearly spelled out, and the Pope is like a CEO. But for the Pope to speak of a “personal search ‘for the face of the Lord,” points to something much more dynamic at the heart of the Church – a personal pilgrimage.
If we do not experience a clear sense of “call” or “vocation” in our lives at the moment, perhaps it is because we are not – or have stopped – personally searching for the face of the Lord. A vocation is a call, and it must come from another person, other than ourselves. To discover or to rediscover our vocation is as simple as genuinely returning to our search for the face of Jesus. He is calling us. He is waiting for us.