Becoming more like John

January 18, 2015 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

By Jackie Pau, Sun 11th January 2015

I have a new role model this year. His name is John the Baptist. Yes, it’s that unkempt, ascetic radical who preaches an urgent, unwelcome message to all: Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

He used to make me uncomfortable. Who wears clothes made from camel’s hair and lives on locusts and wild honey? Then walks around telling all and sundry change your ways now or else… What’s up with that?
Just because he is supremely uncomfortable in his clothes must he make it disagreeable for me as well? I am a good person, surely I will get to heaven without having to step outside my comfort zone? I do not have to go to the extreme lengths that he did, must I?
Although I have certainly travelled far from who I used to be, a woman ensnared in worldly values, what lengths do I go to in order to match John’s love and zeal for God? This is the challenge John the Baptist poses to me every day. Make the change – repent – and change the world.
Like Jesus, John must have spent much time in prayer as he knew God’s heart well. Although he was a preacher with an ever-growing following (why else would Herod fear him and eventually have him beheaded), he could humbly say without a trace of irony I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandal and even encouraged his own disciples to follow Jesus.
Who on earth, especially today says He must increase, I must decrease? Even when we are working for the same cause, boss, organization, country or kingdom, we all clamour for personal recognition and validation for our efforts. We fear that others might steal our glory, forgetting that everything we do should be for the greater glory of God.
We do not allow for diversity of perspectives and we shout down anyone who dares to disagree with us. We use means fair and foul to get what we want even as we simultaneously rationalize our ill motivated decisions and actions, convincing ourselves smugly we are right. It’s funny how we dumb God down thinking we can fool God with clever rhetoric.
John never had the problem of ego or hubris for he knew exactly who he was and what his mission on earth was and he worked tirelessly to achieve that end. He was the voice crying out in the wilderness, the frontrunner who prepares the way, the one who baptizes with water not the Holy Spirit, and he lived and worked wholeheartedly for God.
If I were him, I would have given up long ago. Why work so hard to play second fiddle? He even recognized Jesus, the younger man and inexperienced preacher (wasn’t he a carpenter for crying out loud), as divine, and accorded Him the requisite respect and worship.
Today’s feast day, the Baptism of the Lord, signifies the start of Christ’s public ministry, the revelation of Jesus as God’s beloved son on whom His favour rests, and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Christ in the form of a dove. It reminds me that, likewise, I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and I am God’s beloved child.
As Father Arro raised in his homily this morning life will always present struggles and difficulties, but I can walk in confidence, hope and joy knowing that the marvellous gift of my baptism has won me the favour of God’s forever love.
May I become more like John the Baptist for if I allow Jesus to increase and I decrease, then I will not be tempted to seek my own kingdom but God’s, and I will be content with zero accolades and no external validation. Just as long as I bring God pleasure with silent yet far-reaching humility.
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Entry filed under: Inspiring Faith.

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