This past Tuesday we celebrated the Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist. I have always been a huge fan of John the Baptist for many different reasons. In this reflection, I want to point out two aspects of his life that can also follow as Jesus’ disciples.
The first point is that John the Baptist was Christocentric. This means his whole life was directed towards Christ and not himself. Our modern day culture has a tendency to stress that you are the most important person in life. Life is your project, your desires, your passions, your agenda, etc… John the Baptist however, made it clear that Jesus is the ultimate goal. The gospel tells us that when he “saw Jesus coming and said ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world’” (Jn :29). On another occasion, when He was asked about Jesus, John replied, “I am not the Messiah…He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:28-30). The Baptist gained a lot of attention for his ministry and preaching. But as we see, John humbled himself and pointed to Christ. He was a forerunner of Jesus and was sent to prepare the way for the Lord. He did not get jealous or try to keep followers for himself. He placed the focus on Christ. Similarly, we also must place our attention on Jesus. Our life is really not just about us. We will find true fulfillment and happiness in doing God’s will. Money, material things, people, worldly popularity, politics, work all have a place in life, but they ultimately cannot save us from death. Only the Risen Lord, the Lamb who was slain on the cross can save us. Our selfish pride, lust, jealously, envy, bitterness, must decrease and Jesus must increase. Be Christocentric!
The second point is that John was faithful to the truth. Mark’s gospel tells us that Herod, one of the rulers at the time, put John in prison. John had told Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Mk 6:17). Although confronted against earthly power, imprisonment, and death, the Baptist did not back down. He was not afraid to speak the truth and tell Herod that he was living in sin. In the end, John was beheaded. I think John’s courage and fidelity to the gospel truth should also inspire us. It is honestly not easy to live a righteous life nowadays. Many times, we hear of people being persuaded and bought by money, materials, and worldly influence. Often we feel discouraged and think, “Is it even worth living a good life? Why do people seem to get away with doing evil things? Should I even bother saying something when wrong is done?” John’s example gives us strength to never give into sin and be comfortable with it. Ultimately, his life points to Jesus Christ, our Lord who though innocent and blameless, died on the cross to ransom us from death. We pray that our lives may be Christocentric, focused on Jesus and be faithful to the gospel truth.