Who was John the Baptist?

The Word in Other Words by Fr Lino Nicasio SVD, Baptism of the Lord (Mk 1, 7–11)

It is not easy to be humble, that’s for sure. We want to be “Number One.” We want to have the attention of others, to have others see how important, well-known, and loved we are. And though we loathe to admit it, we want to have our followers, fan clubs, our adoring public. How human!

Now please don’t get me wrong: in the Gospel Saint John the Baptist, the precursor of the Messiah, had all the crowds he could handle – following him in the desert, listening to him, and being baptized by him. But did all this get to him? Perhaps the question should be: “Did John the Baptist allow all this adulation to get to him?” The answer, of course, is a resounding “NO!” And the reason is that John the Baptist knew who he was and what he was. He declared that he was not the Christ, not the Messiah; he was just there to prepare the way for the REAL ONE: Jesus Christ, the one and only Messiah whom he served, the Son in whom the Father was well pleased.

What can we learn from this? Humility, of course. To know who we are and what we are in relation to Christ: that being sinners, we are unworthy even to touch His sandals, as John himself said. We need to avoid pride, arrogance, and illusions of grandeur, even as we serve our Master. Only Christ matters; thus, our focus is on Him. It is Christ we serve as lowly and unworthy servants. And the Lord will be pleased, for He loves persons who, like Him, are meek and humble of heart. Let us instead lead others to Christ, like what the Baptist did. And when we do so, the Father Himself will be well pleased with us.

Fr. Lino E. Nicasio, SVD

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