CCC 523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way.1 “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last.2 He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.3 Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.4
CCC 535 Jesus’ public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan.5 John preaches “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”.6 A crowd of sinners7 – tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes- come to be baptized by him. “Then Jesus appears.” The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, “This is my beloved Son.”8 This is the manifestation (“Epiphany”) of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Son of God.
CCC 678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching.9 Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light.10 Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God’s grace as nothing be condemned.11 Our attitude to our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.12 On the Last Day Jesus will say: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”13
1 Cf. Acts 13:24; Mt 3:3.
2 Lk 1:76; cf. 7:26; Mt 11:13.
3 Jn 1 29; cf. Acts 1:22; Lk 1:41; 16:16; Jn 3:29.
4 Lk 1:17; cf. Mk 6:17-29.
5 Cf. Lk 3:23; Acts 1:22.
6 lK 3:3.
7 Cf. Lk 3:10-14; Mt 3:7; 21:32.
8 Mt 3:13-17.
9 Cf. Dan 7:10; Joel 3-4; Mal 3: 19; Mt 3:7-12.
10 Cf Mk 12:38-40; Lk 12:1-3; Jn 3:20-21; Rom 2:16; I Cor 4:5.
11 Cf. Mt 11:20-24; 12:41-42.
12 Cf. Mt 5:22; 7:1-5.
13 Mt 25:40.