How discouraging it is to see people pointing their fingers at others so often, passing the blame, whether in business, politics, the church, wherever. And, if we are honest, I suspect that we will find some of this in ourselves as well. When our back is against the wall, when we are confronted, we find ourselves pointing at someone else.
There’s a lot of finger pointing in yesterday’s gospel reading for the second Sunday of Advent (Mark 1:1-8), too. After Mark’s rather bald preamble, he points to Isaiah. Isaiah in turn points to John the Baptizer. John is perhaps the biggest finger-pointer of all time, pointing at the one who is to come, Jesus. And Jesus, perhaps self-conscious from being pointed at so much, doesn’t even enter the scene!
But this is a different kind of finger pointing. Rather than simply passing the buck, these fingers are pointed to bear witness to Jesus the Messiah, the righteous one, as Mark says at the beginning. This isn’t finger pointing to avoid the truth, but to attest to the One who is the truth.
It’s worth spending some time pondering this finger pointing, for as the theologian Karl Barth says, “the church stands in the tradition of John the Baptist. What it can and should do is point an outstretched finger: ‘Behold the lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.’” In other words, the vocation of John the Baptizer is our own vocation: to bear witness to the one who is powerful and worthy and who brings the Holy Spirit; and we are to point to the truth, love and goodness of Jesus Christ both in our words and in our lives.
In what ways do you, your family, your friends, your parish, already point to the coming Lord?
After we have mentioned the obvious (and important) notion of telling others about Jesus, what other ways are there for making our lives embodied “pointings” to Jesus?
Will this always look “religious”? How would it look?
What might the Spirit be calling you to do? What specific, concrete action might you take this week to grow in becoming one who points to Jesus Christ?