"He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light." This is part of a description Jesus gives of John's work that preceded him. Jesus goes on to chastise them for not recognizing that the light emanating from John the Baptist was ignited from elsewhere, and that elsewhere is standing and working right in their midst, un-acknowledged, un-appreciated. We do that all the time, focusing on the human and not on the origin.
This is not an uncommon, or new phenomenon, this practice of finding a hero, a savior, putting them up on a pedestal, forgetting that they are human too, and lauding and magnifying their works as those that can fix all our problems. And then, at some point, these humans act like humans, and fail - or burn out - and disappoint. We do this over and over and over again.
This is one of the main points the Gospel writer we call John is trying to drive home by giving Jesus these words today. Recognizing the individual abilities of people is absolutely appropriate and the right thing to do. Forgetting that these laudable and talented folk are human too, with all the frailties and foibles existing within that all of us have, is an habitual tendency we need to fight against. Focusing those hopes, dreams, love, admiration and wonder at Jesus, the one standing among us, who is with us always, is the appropriate direction of those emotions and desires.
John is asking us to think on today, Who have we made a god-head in our lives, setting ourselves up for future disappointment? Can we short-cut that disappointment and instead re-direct that energy and attention on Jesus?
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.