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Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code insists that a da Vinci painting of the baby Jesus and the baby John the Baptist caused a great controversy because it showed John blessing Jesus, instead of the other way around. How twisted is the attempt of this novel to re-define the relationship between the Lord Jesus and his cousin, especially as we read today’s gospel on the true nature of John’s sentiments towards Jesus.

In the gospel, John was in prison and he sends people to Jesus to verify whether Jesus was truly the Messiah. In his heart John knew the answer. He was the one who pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away all sin. He was the one who baptized Jesus in the Jordan and ushered the way to Jesus’ public ministry. Later on, he would die for Jesus, since his mission of introducing him to the world was now fulfilled.

John was not superior to Jesus even if he were born earlier. John was not superior even if he came ahead of him in the public scene. John never felt he was in any way more famous, more influential, or more powerful than Jesus since he himself confessed that he was not worthy to untie the sandals of the Lord.

The joy of John’s heart was Jesus himself. It was his great joy to become part of his cousin’s (now his Master) mission to proclaim the Kingdom. In prison, and sensing his approaching death, John wanted to hear from Jesus again, a confirmation that he was really the Messiah. The gospel did not recount how John received the reply of Jesus. But it must have been with overflowing joy!

As Christmas approaches, let us remind ourselves that there is no other joy in life than to encounter Jesus, to receive him in our hearts and to live with him at every moment. John loved the Lord but this did not mean that he was spared from trials and tribulations in life. He did suffer much, but his hope was greater than his suffering because his heart was filled with the joy of knowing that the Messiah has come into the world.

Like John, we may find ourselves in difficult situations before Christmas. Let us not allow anything to take away our joy. Instead, let us reach out to him and beg to hear from him the confirmation that he loves us and that he is personally concerned about everything that happens to us. There is no other joy than to know you, Jesus!