A speaker once opened the Holy Bible and pointed to the intersection of the Old and New Testaments. There, he noted, is John the Baptist’s role and mission within salvation history!
Having followed generations of prophets who proclaimed that the Messiah was coming, the Baptist had been given the unique role of pointing Jesus out and introducing Him to a world in desperate need:
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.John 1:29
After doing so, this cousin of Jesus did what each of us is called to do: decrease.
Within the Church’s liturgical year, it is no coincidence that the Solemnity of John the Baptist (June 24th) is placed at the halfway mark to the great Feast of Christmas. For, in late June, we arrive at the longest day of the year. And six-months later, on the shortest day of the year, we experience the joy of Christmas. And, from that moment onward, Christ increases!
For John, with Jesus upon the scene, his mission was fulfilled. Years before, at the Visitation, he had an experience of Jesus while residing in his mother’s womb. But now, having come face-to-face with the Creator of the universe, John removes all focus from himself and points to Jesus.
I have often reflected upon how the Baptist must have felt as he gazed into Jesus’ eyes. What did he see? Similarly, as we progress on our faith journey, what do we see? If we are younger, perhaps we see a mission that has yet to be determined. While looking deeply into Jesus’ eyes and into our own hearts, we ponder the ways He may be asking us to use those talents in order that we might build up His body. Or, if we are older, we might assess whether we have been good stewards and nurturers of the talents that we have received.
In our perpetual yearning for longer days and hot summer months, may we pray that during such times, the light of Christ will be more fully exposed. And with proverbial sand passing through the hourglass of our lives, may we also shift our life perspective to allow the Lamb of God precious space so that He might fully penetrate us.
With John’s courage, let us turn our heads and hear God whisper: decrease. By doing so, may we welcome and beckon Him to fill us with His deepest blessings! And after receiving them, may we confidently continue on our way to fulfilling the unique mission given us on the day of our baptism. Regarding the time horizon? Only heaven knows whether our remaining earthly mission consists of days, months, or years.
Now enveloped within the mystery of God, our journey is best described by the great American poet, Robert Frost:
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.