I came across a group of children in school playing a game. I guess the name of the game is “Who took the cookie from the cookie pot?” Each child in the group is given a number except for one child who is the “cookie pot”. So, the “cookie pot” will say “who took the cookie from the cookie pot” followed by “Number 3 (or whatever number) took the cookie from the cookie pot!”
The child who is number 3 will say “Who me?” Cookie pot will reply “Yes, you!” Number 3 will say “Couldn’t be!” Cookie pot will say “Then who?” and then Number 3 will say “Number 5 (or whatever number) took the cookie from the cookie pot.” From there, the Cookie Pot and Number 5 will repeat the same question and reply. Then whoever fumbles in the dialogue or forgets his number becomes the next “Cookie Pot”. And when there is a new Cookie Pot, the children are assigned new numbers. Young children will find it exciting, but for adults, this is children’s game.
In the gospel, the conversation between the priests and the Levites, and John the Baptist was like a “children’s game”. – Are you the Christ? Who me? Yes, you! Couldn’t be! Then who? – Are you Elijah? Who me? Yes, you! Couldn’t be! Then who? – Are you the Prophet? Who me? Yes, you! Couldn’t be! Then who? The priests and the Levites are like the “Cookie Pot” who kept asking questions and getting dead end answers from John the Baptist.
In their frustration, they said to him: Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself? John the Baptist stated clearly that he was not the Christ, not Elijah, not the Prophet, and then he said that he is “the voice that cries out in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord.”
John the Baptist said that he was just a voice in the wilderness. But we know he was more than that. He came as a witness to speak for the Light, so that everyone might believe through him. He was not the Light, only a witness to speak for the Light.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus the true Light, we too like John the Baptist, are to be witnesses to speak for the Light. And we can’t say “Who me? Couldn’t be!” because if not we, then who? Our preparation in Advent is to witness and speak for the Light of lights, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.
It’s not just about putting up Christmas decorations and singing Christmas carols. There is more than just that.
For many people in the world today, Jesus is a dim and abstract figure. Even “Merry Christmas” is being replaced with “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings”.
In the words of John the Baptist “there stands among you, unknown to you”. Yes, Jesus needs witnesses to make Him known. The world may know about Christmas but may not know who Christ is.
So, who are to be the witnesses of Christ at Christmas? Who else but us. If not we, then who?
Like John the Baptist, we must bear witness and speak for the Light so that everyone might believe and come to embrace the Light.