Today we keep the feastday of St John the Baptist, and you might not be aware of this, but its incredibly rare for Church to allow an individual saint to replace the normal Sunday Mass. So its worth while remembering why St John the Baptist is considered important.
Let’s recall who he was:
He was “the Baptist” -in the River Jordan he baptised huge crowds of people who came to him from all over Palestine.
He was great
-he had so many many followers, and was held in such admiration, that many people thought that he must eb the long-awaited Jewish Messaish. So many people thought this that he had to make a point of saying that he WASN’T the Messiah (Lk 3:15-16);
-he was so great that the Lord Jesus said of Him, that there was no one greater born of women (Mt 11:11);
-God blessed his birth with miracles: an angel appeared to his father and first struck him dumb and then his speech was restored, events so unusual that “all marvelled”(Lk 1:63) and everyone said, “What then will this child turn out to be?”(Lk 1:66).
He was the cousin of the Lord Jesus
-his mother was Elizabeth, a cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Having noted all those details, let’s come to the crucial point:
WHY was he baptising?
As he put it himself, he was ‘Preparing a way for the Lord’(Lk 3:4):
His was a ‘baptism of repentence’(Lk 3:3);
He told people how to change their lives: the tax collectors, the soldiers, the multitudes;
And the point is this:
None of this was for himself, it was all to get them ready for someone else: the Lord Jesus Christ, who WAS the long-awaited Messiah.
A brief application to ourselves: How is all this relevant to ME?
4 very brief points:
(1) God had a plan in St John the Baptist, a long plan with many miraculous details, a plan that was part of a wider plan: for the Messiah.
If God had a plan for him, it’s a reminder that He also mas a plan for me, and a plan for you.
(2) A different point, St John the Baptist deferred to the Lord Jesus. St John the Baptist said, He must increase and I must decrease”(Jn 3:30).
I, too, must be ready to put the Lord before all else -he and I are not on an equal footing.
(3) Third, the entire work of St John the Baptist was oriented towards the something GREATER that lay ahead: the coming of the King, with a new type of Kingdom.
There is something greater ahead, available for you and me too: Heaven.
(4) Finally, let us think about how St John the Baptist first reacted when meeting the Lord Jesus.
People often recall his life of penance in the desert, his eating locusts etc.
BUT when he first met the Lord, when their pregnant mothers greeted, and the two babes in the wombs miraculously reacted to each other, his mother Elizabeth said, “The babe in my womb leapt for JOY”(Lk 1:44).
Joy can be our reaction too, every time we meet the Lord, at a deeper and deeper level.