THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST (Solemnity)
First Reading: Is 49:1-6; Psalm: 139. R. v. 14a; Second Reading: Acts 13:22-26; Gospel: Lk 1:57-66. 80
THE GREATNESS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
There was something great about John the Baptist that was evident in the events surrounding his birth. His mother Elizabeth conceived of him at old age when conception was impossible. John the Baptist leaped for joy in the womb of his mother upon the greetings of Mary who at that time had conceived of Jesus. Zachariah his father went dumb for he doubted the angel’s message on John’s conception. But his tongue loosed at John’s naming ceremony and he began to prophesy. This whole chain of events left the friends and relatives of Zachariah awed that they began to wonder “What then will this child be?” (Lk 1:66). John’s greatness was loud enough from the very beginning.
Of him Jesus said “among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Mt 11:11). This testimony of Jesus re-echoed John’s greatness. But what exactly was great about this man that even Jesus himself had to testify to it? The second reading is very apt in answering this question. “Before his coming John had preached a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie’” (Acts 13:24-25). There is nothing as great as giving God his rightful place in our daily endeavours. Knowing our place in life and respecting God’s place is sacrosanct
From John’s utterances and actions we see a man who was humble, sincere, selfless, and truthful. John was humble and sincere for he acknowledged he was not the expected Messiah. He was selfless because he sought nothing for himself as a messenger. And he was truthful in accepting his place and in confronting the injustice of King Herod. Every true messenger of God should have these qualities. Preachers of the gospel should know their place and not carried away by the prestige that comes with being God’s messenger. Just as John did, God’s people should be catechised to know that we are mere messengers under both ecclesiastical and divine authorities. We should know our place and respect the place of our superiors and the place of God. Our watchword is “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, grant us the grace to know our place in the course of our daily endeavours. Amen.