Birth of St. John the Baptist
Luke 1:57-66, 80
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." At first glance John the Baptist can appear very harsh and severe. If we look closely at his message we see he really wants us to change of mind about God. The word for repent in the inspired Greek New Testament is metanoeo which means to think differently about God.
John the Baptist is passionate about God because God is passionate about us. From the opening pages of Scripture God’s feelings about us are ardent. I think most of us have very little notion of just how strongly God feels about us. John the Baptist even to this day is to move us to care more deeply about God.
John is to prepare us for God’s ultimate expression of love in Jesus. It is fashionable today to be casual about religion. Somehow in our culture to be laid-back about God is considered the sophisticated and acceptable way to act. In our anxiousness to please others and avoid rejection we are slack and limp in preaching the Gospel by our words and manner.
John the Baptist is a man on fire. When he was asked who he was he said I am a voice crying out in the desert. ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ " The greatest evil in the world is not the oil spill, or poverty, or injustice. The greatest evil in the world is not to have Christ. This is the greatest disaster and catastrophe that can happen to individuals and society. For John the Baptist all else was secondary and important only as a way to prepare for the coming of Christ.
John the Baptist is antidote for the poison of apathy towards God. He is a powerful figure that reminds us that Jesus is the First and the Last of our lives. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews says that Christ is everything to everyone.
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. gives parish missions and retreats. He is a member of the Passionist community in Detroit, Michigan.