The father of John the Baptist, Zechariah, gives a wonderful prayer to God at the birth of his son. There is a part of the Canticle of Zechariah where he addresses his son directly and says these words: “You, my child shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His way, to give His people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.”
John the Baptist did this very thing. He announced the need for repentance because the Kingdom of God was coming. He was preparing the way of the Lord Jesus. He knew from the beginning that it was not himself that we were meant to follow. John the Baptist, as did his followers, also knew that there was a price to be paid if our sins were to truly be forgiven. This is because in the Jewish custom of atonement not only were prayer and fasting required but also a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. A goat or lamb was often used. This is important to remember because of how John identifies Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God.” When John identified Jesus as such, his followers knew that Jesus was the very way to salvation. Christ is being called by John the very sacrifice needed for our atonement with God. It made perfect sense for Andrew to start following Christ.
The repentance that John was speaking about comes to completion in Jesus Christ, but the story of our salvation does not end there. Andrew had to let others know who Christ was. So, Andrew finds the person he loves and reveals to him what he has found. He tells Simon, his brother, that he has found the Messiah. Andrew, like John before him, led someone to Jesus. Simon, we all know becomes Peter, who Christ called the rock upon which the Church is built.
That same Church has the responsibility to continue to call all to repent and follow Christ. As members of this same Church, we also are being called to proclaim to all the very truth that we hear in our liturgy every time we participate: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” Out of love for all, we have the responsibility to let others know this revelation. So, when Zechariah calls John the prophet of the Most High, he is really speaking to each one of us.
May Jesus live in our hearts forever.