Called to point people to Christ
Jesus declared John the Baptist to be the greatest man to have ever lived. “I tell you,” he said, “among those born of women there is no one greater than John.” Luke 7:28
In the church’s calendar, we usually celebrate the life and ministry of saints on the anniversary of their deaths. However, in the case of John the Baptist the church remembers both his execution – by beheading – on 29 August as well as his birth on 24 June.
This is the church’s way of saying – along with Jesus – that, “among those born of women no one is greater than John.”
The story of our Patron Saint who we celebrate at this time begins even before his birth. His mother, Elizabeth, was a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The two women were pregnant at the same time. Luke says that when the two expectant mothers met, the baby leaped within Elizabeth's womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.
The remarkable ministry of John the Baptist included the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, which is depicted in the central panel of our east window.
He was a prophet, a “voice” and he was a forerunner, who prepared the Lord’s way. He drew large crowds to the banks of the Jordan, and preached a message of repentance. He did not lack boldness. He even challenged Herod to repent of his sins.
In approximately 29 AD, Herod arrested John and put him in prison. Later, he was beheaded through a plot devised by Herodias, the illegal wife of Herod and ex-wife of his brother, Philip.
John's greatest strength was his focused and faithful commitment to the call of God on his life. He personified the term “set apart for God”. He knew he had been given a specific job to do – to point people to Christ – and he set out with singular obedience to fulfil that mission.
Likewise, we are called to point people to Christ through our words, through our deeds and through our actions. There are people near you, sitting beside you in the pew, living at your home or working beside you at your workplace who need the preaching, teaching, healing, compassion and helping that we have been commissioned to do.
A Christian is someone who has been found by Jesus, who has been assigned a job by Jesus, who realizes that their greatest need is not to have their own wants met, but rather to join in Jesus’ mission into the world.
With John the Baptist as our model we care called to go forth and join with Jesus in his mission.