When members of my family introduce someone, they always give that person an automatic promotion. If she’s a doctor, they will exaggerate, introducing her as a brilliant surgeon. A teacher’s aide becomes a full professor. I am told that I do the same thing. I still turn an ordinary singer into a brilliant musician, a plain-looking person into a great beauty. When I’m talking about a dog, a mutt becomes a golden retriever who can juggle.
In my family, we see life as a series of grand stories that simply must be populated with larger-than-life characters. The problem is that we can get it wrong, and lose the essence of who a person is. For instance, when a labor union organizer is introduced as the head of a corporation’s labor relations department, he has switched sides. If someone is called the perfect mother, she loses the right to tear her hair out when the baby throws raspberry yogurt across the room. In our grand descriptions, however generously offered, we may strip our characters of the right to be who they really are.
We are told that when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming, he declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Talk about a grand introduction! What could Jesus have felt in that moment? Did he want to say, “Stop. I’m not all that”? Or was he comfortable with the introduction?
What John recognized about Jesus was surely something exciting and new. This One is the Lamb of God and the Son of God who will take away sin and baptize with the Holy Spirit. We can recognize him if we actively watch for him.
We are able to see Jesus when we put on the mind of Christ. Our active watching is really living as Jesus did: when we see the face of Jesus in the poor and needy; when we reach out a helping hand to those overburdened, when we encourage the discouraged. This is how we remain faithful to the mission God gave us. All this is possible because the Spirit descends upon us too.