June 23 – Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist
John the Baptist (d.30) was the cousin of Jesus Christ. His father, Zachary, was a priest of the order of Abia whose job in the Temple was to burn incense; and of Elizabeth, a descendant of Aaron. As Zachary was ministering in the Temple, an angel brought him news that Elizabeth would bear a child filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment of his birth. Zachary doubted and was struck dumb until John’s birth.
John began his ministry as prophet around age 27, wearing a leather belt and a tunic of camel hair, living off locusts and wild honey, and preaching a message of repentance to the people of Jerusalem. He converted many, and prepared the way for the coming of Jesus. After baptizing Christ, he told his disciples to follow Jesus.
Imprisoned by King Herod, John the Baptist died a victim of the vengeance of a jealous woman; he was beheaded, and his head brought to her on a platter. St. Jerome says Herodias kept the head for a long time after, occasionally stabbing the tongue with her dagger because of what John had said in life.
- Patron Saint Index
He said to me, “You are my servant (Israel), in whom I shall be glorified.”
Why does God choose to show his glory through believers like us? Our efforts would pale in comparison to the miracles Jesus performed – such as turning water into wine. Has God lost his powers over the years? Is he shy to use them? Why would God want to take the uncertain and slower path to reveal himself to believers and non-believers alike?
My faith would certainly receive a major boost from witnessing a miracle. With one big miracle, God could convince the whole world to follow him and we would all live in peace and happiness till the end of time.
But, until such an event happens, we will have to make do with what we have. And what we have on a daily basis are opportunities to be servants of God. The term can be very derogatory. And because of the large imbalance of power between the servants and the masters, exploitation is rife. However, the bible presents us stories of masters who are fair and just — like in the parable of the talents.
If we believe that God is a master worth serving, we must have the faith that we will be rewarded for our efforts. We are servants of God, and not his slaves. And while it could take some getting used to, there is nothing demeaning about serving a worthwhile cause. For proof of this, simply look at all the public servants everywhere who keep our societies running.
I have also noticed, what seems to me, to be a limiting belief among people with regard to meaningful work and public service. While many of the trumpeted heroes of the church were involved directly in working with people in fields such as healthcare, government, and social work; many of our disciplines impact society in just as important ways.
For example, a musician may not be physically tending to the destitute, but his music provides comfort and respite. An avantgarde chef may not be putting food into the mouths of the poor, but his experiments and boundary pushing advance the richness of his society’s culture.
We do not need to feel deficient as long as our work is honest and aligned to society. We can all be servants if we broaden our view of how we serve.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Gregory Mathew)
Prayer: Help us O Lord, to put aside our pride and envy as we go about serving you. We know that your love for us is all we need.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Jesus, for the community of servants around us who never cease to inspire with their tenacious spirit.