The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Karl H Peschke – Vienna, Austria
Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist – June 24
The Church rejoices at the birth of John the Baptist. He proclaims the good news of the near advent of the Messiah. He is the voice in the desert at the waters of the Jordan, where he baptizes with a baptism of penance: “Prepare the ways of the Lord, make his path straight” (Mt3,3). Until today his proclamation of conversion retains its validity. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Mt.3,2). “The crooked shall be made straight…. Bear fruits worthy of penance” (Lk 3,5-8).
All of us need a readiness for conversion. Some need the radical conversion from estrangement from God to a new communion with him and from adherence to possessions, popularity, power, and pleasures as their greatest values to the lasting values of love of God and his kingdom. Others need the conversion from daily shortcomings to greater generosity in the service of God and neighbor.
At the same time, the words of the Baptist awaken in our hearts the joyful expectation of the advent of the redeemer. The Baptist is the precursor of the Messiah. He prepares the way for him. His sermon is an important testimony for the extraordinary mission of Jesus. “Here is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1,29).
The greatness of the Baptist reveals itself most when he steps into the background, once Jesus comes. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3,30). Also, in our lives, Jesus must steadily increase, and our worldly self must decrease. The selfless, devoted love of Jesus, the sincerity of his intentions and commitments, the profound unity with the Father must more and more increase also in our lives.
The welfare of those entrusted to us must be ever nearer to our hearts; the needs of the community, and the great concerns of the Church must become ever more our own. According to the words of Jesus, John “was a burning and shining lamp” (Jn 5,35). Also, we should become lamps that burn and shine.