Jan 9 — Saturday after Epiphany Sunday
1 Jn 5:14-21
“He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.”
As a parent, my job is to prepare my son for the life that awaits him. I need to ensure that he is able to read, write, and do arithmetic by the time he goes to school. I need to ground him with good values so that he will learn to make the right decisions. I need to ensure he has proper nutrition so that he can grow strong and healthily. I need to give him a safe home and a loving environment so that he can thrive as a person. My hope is that by the time he grows up, I would have done enough to prepare him for the world, and for the world to receive a good and honorable young man.
John the Baptist had a similar job. He had been paving the way for Jesus, converting the people, exhorting them to repent and turn back to God. Many people came to him and he baptized them. Yet when asked, he acknowledged that he was the lesser one, sent before the Messiah whose sandals he was not worthy to untie (Mt 3:11). He understood that his job was only to prepare the way, to make the path straight (Jn 1:23), that is to prepare the hearts of the people to receive Jesus when he came. He never claimed to be the Christ or any other prophet like Elijah, neither did he seek out any glory for the work that he had been doing. He sought no creature comforts nor any pomp and ceremony. His life was akin to a hermit, living off honey and locusts in the desert and dressed in camel hair. Despite the harsh conditions, John the Baptist bore it all well, for he knew that any suffering or discomfort he experienced was for a higher cause, and that made it all worthwhile. In fact, he likened his role to that of a best man at a wedding in today’s reading — there was great joy in hearing the arrival of the groom, whom he had been eagerly anticipating.
There will be times in our ministry or calling where we feel underappreciated or unrecognized. There will be times when our tasks will seem like a thankless uphill slog and our efforts come to nothing. To this, we say, “Don’t give up.” Recognise that perhaps we may need some physical and spiritual rejuvenation, a reminder that our cause is bigger than us. To offer God the glory and praise when things go right as well as when things go south, and to ask for strength for the latter, humility for the former. For me, I know that my job is to take care and nurture the gift that God has entrusted to me — i.e. my children. There will be days when I wonder if it will ever end, where the worries and frustrations are ceaseless. And I will hope and pray that I am doing the right thing. And I know that one day, my son will excel at something and receive all the praise and recognition for his efforts despite it being a team effort between him and me. Yet I will simply stand in the background and smile proudly behind the wings, for this is not my moment, but God’s.
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for your guiding light to lead us to the calling you have set out for us. Help us to understand that our purpose is God-given and God-driven, especially when the going gets tough.
Thanksgiving: Lord, thank you for believing in us and giving us the opportunity to work with you for your causes. Our achievements are not our own, but a joint effort between you and us, and we give you praise and glory for them.