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Today’s Gospel tells us that the people were ‘filled with expectation’. It sounds like a very exciting time as they wonder who this prophet John could be. John must have been a very dynamic and inspiring preacher as the people speculated if he were the one they had been waiting for.
He uses all of this attention for one purpose: to point people to Jesus. There are many people in our own lives who have pointed us towards Jesus, perhaps by an invitation to an event or a retreat or by sharing a reflection with us at just the right time. In them, we see something special and interesting that makes us wonder in our hearts and seek a little further. They are the John the Baptists in our lives, pointing us towards the Lord like signposts along the way.
John humbly responds to the people by saying: ‘One who is more powerful than I is coming.’ He emphasises that it is He who will really set their hearts on fire. While the words concerning ‘winnowing forks’ seem harsh, we might interpret them as speaking of God’s power to transform our lives through Jesus. When Jesus enters into the narrative, Luke emphasises that He is at prayer, and it is then that this powerful experience of God occurs. A nice meditation for today is to repeat the last sentence of today’s Gospel, imagining God speaking these words to you: ‘You are my Daughter/Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’