by Fr. Francis Martin

John 5:33-36a:33 "You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. 34 "I do not accept testimony from a human being, but I say this so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have testimony greater than John's.”

Jesus, out of love for his adversaries, appeals to another testimony: that of his precursor, John the Baptist. By this means he hoped to lead them to the truth. John spoke of his own ministry as that of “baptizing with water,” a conversion rite he used to bring people to renew their commitment to God and be prepared for the One who would “baptize in the Holy Spirit.” This expression of John’s would evoke in the minds of his hearers all those places in the Old Testament which referred to the definitive act of God on behalf of his people as a “pouring out of the Spirit.” Recall, for instance, the words spoken by St. Peter on that first Pentecost as he quoted the prophecy of Joel (3:1): “Then afterward I will pour out my Spirit upon all mankind. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions…” And there are so many similar prophecies and promises. All of these prophecies point to the need for special divine aid in responding to God’s loving initiative. At Pentecost the Father, by pouring out the Spirit of his Son, brought this promise to a reality. Every generation needs this same outpouring, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminded us in his remarks after reciting the “Regina Coeli Prayer” with the crowds on Pentecost 2008. On that occasion he spoke of the grace of an experiential faith: “Let us rediscover, dear brothers and sisters, the beauty of being baptized in the Holy Spirit; let us recover awareness of our Baptism and our Confirmation, ever timely sources of grace.” This recovery of awareness of the foundational graces of our Christian life is at the heart of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s call to the Church to be renewed through a personal encounter with the living Christ.

Jesus, let the deep recesses of my heart echo your desire to have me know you better, love you more faithfully, and make you known in the world. Amen.

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