How To Find Your Life's Mission
If someone says to you, "Know your place," you'd probably take it in a negative way. You'd probably see it as derogatory or putting you down or that sort of thing. And it certainly can be used in that way. But the reality is it is critically important that we know our place in the world, in the universe, in the history or salvation, in relation to God, in relation to each other, we do have a place. And it's critically important that we know our place. And nobody was clearer about that than John the Baptist. And we encounter John the Baptist again this Sunday in the Gospel. And one thing that is very, very clear is John the Baptist knows his place. He doesn't take it as a criticism, he doesn't take it as derogatory, he doesn't take it as anything other than, "Hey, I know my place. I know my mission. I have got my mission. That's what I came for." And it's really, really powerful. And it's something we should yearn for, long for, and seek ourselves.
This is Sunday's gospel reading. The next day, he saw Jesus coming toward him. Again, it started out of nowhere. Who is he? John the Baptist. The next day, he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me. I myself did not know him. But for this, I came. For this, I came, baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.'" And John bore witness, "I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know Him. But He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.'"
John the Baptist knows his place. And let me tell you something, that's a really, really powerful thing. That's a gift. It's a gift. To know who you are and what you're here for, it's a beautiful thing. It's a powerful thing. And we see that. It's very attractive in John. The four things that I want us to take a very quick look at here today, four takeaways. First one, behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of world. Where's the line from? Well, we know it from the mass, but where's it from? It's from here. It's from the scriptures like so many lines in our prayers, like so many lines in our sacraments. They come straight out of the scriptures. And I think it's important to understand that because very often when our prayers and sacraments are attacked, that's one of the reasons they're attacked. People say, "Oh, they got nothing to do with the scriptures. Oh, they're invented by people. No, they're drawn, invented by the Holy Spirit, drawn from the scriptures drawn from tradition, drawn from our history, very, very powerful.
Second thing, after me comes a man who ranks before me. Okay, John the Baptist knows his place, okay? And he knows his place in relation to who? In relation to Jesus. And it's important that we know our place, not in relation to someone who is just out there and wants to put us in our place in some derogatory or criticizing way. That's not what we're talking about here. It's important that we know our place in relation to Jesus. Because once you have that point of reference, we then know our place in relation to everybody else. And it's a very, very powerful thing. The next thing, John the Baptist says, he says it here. He says it in a couple other places, "For this, I came." Okay. What is that? It's confidence of mission. Okay, this is what I came for. And I think it's important we understand that. And some people say, "Well, I spent my whole life searching for that, but I never really found it." Most of us, it's there, but we don't see it. It isn't that we haven't found it. It's that we haven't seen it. In fact, sometimes people are living out their mission. And they're not even aware that it's their mission. And often, it's because they want something else. One of the powerful things my mother taught me was like she wanted to be a mom. She felt called to be a mum. And other people criticize her and not working outside the home and these sorts of things. And she was clear, "I'm here to be a mom." And that was a very powerful lesson for me and my brothers growing up.
It's like, what did you come for? Not what does the world wants you to be? Not what do you want to be just on a whim or a fancy whatever else? What has God put you here in this place at this time for? And John was clear about that. And we should yearn for that. We should ask for that. We should beg God for that, to give us more clarity around that. And then the fourth thing, how does John the Baptist refer to Jesus, he refers to him as he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. You've heard me say before, "You create an image of God, act accordingly." And so we use it again here. You've been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Act accordingly. When's the last time you called on the Holy Spirit and said, "Show me, guide me, coach me, mentor me." Very often, we have a decision to make, we just make it or we ask people who don't know anything about anything what they think we should do, asking fools for advice, rather than going to God, going to the Spirit of God. Go to the Holy Spirit and say, "Guide me. Give me some counsel. Give me some wisdom. Show me what I should do in this situation. And so again, it's like eight lines, and there's just so much there. And we keep talking about it all day long. But what's the big takeaway? Know your place. That's not a bad thing. In fact, it's a profoundly beautiful gift from God. So ask God to show you your place. Ask God to help you get clear about what your place is.