Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Knowing and Being Known
To be truly known might be the greatest gift of all. When barriers dissipate and the self exposed, and still love is there, that’s when we know that love is real, deep, and abiding. It is rare, and it is precious.
In today’s currency, we say being known is king. Everybody has to have a platform, preferably with a significant following. Yet, it’s a superficial knowing. The information given is only what the “knowee” wants to reveal. And isn’t it always a little disconcerting when some tidbit escapes that just doesn’t fit with a carefully curated profile? We can’t quite believe that person would do, say, or think in that particular way, and this new information, true or not, jars.
But love’s not there because there’s no relationship.
Perhaps it’s fortunate Jesus’s birth was two millennia ago. There’s no way Jesus can be known digitally.
Even though John the Baptist admits, “I did not know him,” (v.33) God revealed Jesus’s identity through the act of His baptism, Jesus’s “yes” to His destiny. Then John knows Him, understands who He is at a deep level. So, when Jesus returns from His fast in the desert, John recognizes his cousin immediately and identifies Him as “the Lamb of God” (v. 29), foretelling Jesus’s death, a fact even Jesus may not have known yet. John’s purpose is to point to the Christ. John understands this destiny because it’s been his from the beginning.
When John was in his mother’s womb, he recognized, was the first one to recognize, the babe Mary carried as the promised Messiah. Yet, when he is a fully grown human, with eyes to see and ears to hear, John doesn’t know Jesus until it is spelled out in the form of the dove. Those who know Jesus apart from the physical senses have a deeper understanding of Him: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).
A meme on the internet quotes an essay, “If we want the rewards of being loved, we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.” Jesus allowed Himself to be fully known, known all the way to death, and because of that, He opened himself to relationship with us. It’s only in that relationship, that “mortifying ordeal,” can we experience true love.
God loves us regardless, but if we want to experience the depth of His love and fulfill our true destiny, we have to do the same— be willing to be known in order to be in relationship with Him. Two dimensional posts may garner a lot of “likes,” but a significant following of “likes” pales in comparison to the wholly human experience of true love, of true relationship. Jesus wants both with us whether we “like” it or not, and John pointed us right to Him.