John the Baptist Who Prepares the Way

Gospel Reading: Matthew 11: 1-15

St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness by Joshua Reynolds (1776)
 A human being lived on the earth of whom it was said, he was the highest born of women, but not yet an angel. John lived at the threshold of humanity’s becoming.

In the course of the year, he is the one human being upon whom we call from the altar. In the epistle at St. John’s, he is addressed and it is said of him that he carries the Father spirit in the sphere around his body. This expression is a picture of being enveloped, of living within something larger. In this case it is all of creation. John’s thoughts are one with the divine. We may manage this some of the time; but he lives there.

His thinking is alive with God. As one who from a very early age dedicated himself to a life of prayer and service to others that they may know the nearness of the Kingdom of God, he  grew to become someone not limited by the demands of the physical body, able to be nourished from simple nourishments–wild fruits and honey and clothing himself with rough camel hair and a leather belt. He went to the desert in solitude with God; he was then called to the River Jordan to baptize any who heard his message: change your minds and hearts, for the Kingdom of God is near.

One could see a harshness in John, because of the clarity and power of his word, but in reality, his was a love for humanity so great, he gave everything so that we might not miss our opportunity to take the next great step in human development. His humility was complete: he found himself also unworthy to baptize Jesus–but it was this humility that made him worthy.

We call upon John that we may receive his witness and his strength to give ourselves to that which is most essential in our lives, to be able to commit like he does to the working of the spirit, and to love our own humanity and that in those around us, that we grow into the human beings we are to become, those who love God and all of Creation unerringly, unremittingly, uninterruptedly.

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