The Gospels give us a clear perception of people's expectations which, when we're talking about the Christmas story and with the exception of Elizabeth and John, Simeon and Anna, remain needy of dialogue with the reality Who is Christ born our Savior; the sufficiency of Christ for us as Savior needs to be run by us more than once; it needs discussion, process, and certainly, contemplation. This passage about John's witness to the Christ illustrates this very well. John is clear on Who the Christ is but his interlocutors not. John points them to the One Who is All in all, which is much more than what they bargained for.
This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied: a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord.’
Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising. [John 1:19-28]
As I say, Simeon and Anna in the Temple understand but few others do. Nunc dimittis... Simeon has experienced the promise fulfilled. Most of us come up short when asked the reason for our hope. Time and again in the life of the Church there have been moments when men seized by the sufficiency of the Gospel have literally drawn the world in their train for Christ: Great St. Anthony, the Abbot, in the desert of Egypt, St. Benedict of Nursia, and St. Francis of Assisi, just to name three. These men sought only Christ and others sought out them, begging them to lead them to Christ. The dialogue with the Baptist repeats itself in every age with more or less success depending upon the virtue of the precursor.
As I say, most of us finding ourselves wanting when it comes to sorting this thing through, end up on the side of those who proceeded to question John the Baptist more about who he is and what he stands for. We're called rather to witness to our world that Jesus is enough for us, that He truly is Savior.
I guess if I had a prayer for 2014 it would be that I could more consequently sort this thing out, not so much for me, but for the sake of the life of the world. That people would take me by the coattail and beg me to take them to Christ!
PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI