Earlier this year we celebrated the Nativity of St John the Baptist. A date which coincided with the official birth of Evangelion. Today we recognise the Memorial of the Passion of St John the Baptist – just weeks ahead of our inaugural event ‘In His Name’ – so we thought we’d take a closer look at this great evangelist and what we can learn from him.
Preparation and polishing in the wilderness
Now we know John the Baptist’s public ministry had him preaching in the wilderness of Judea, but what do we know of his time prior to this? We hear in John’s gospel that he had been in the wilderness for some time.
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel. – John 1:80
John the Baptist was one of greatest men in the Bible, yet he was hidden away in the desert until the appointed time. Scripture scholars point to Isaiah 49:1-2 as being about John the Baptist:
The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.
As we now know, John was being prepared for something special. He was being polished and sharpened for his role as the forerunner of Christ. His time in the spotlight was relatively short in comparison to those years of preparation, but it was clearly worth it given the impact he had among the people. He was rather famous in his time, he had a huge following and the movement he began ended up having followers in distant lands.
So consider where God has placed you now. Perhaps you are in your own wilderness of preparation and polishing. Your impact could be great. It could be a witness to hundreds from a pulpit, or it could be the deep impression you leave with a few – a co-worker, a friend, your children or future grandchildren.
John was a polished arrow stored in the quiver until just the right time. If you are in the wilderness now, how are you using this time to best prepare for the mission?
Hold fast to the strength of your convictions
In today’s gospel reading we hear of the reason why Herod had imprisoned John. John had spoken out against his marriage to Herodias, who was actually his brother’s wife, and called out their adultery.
For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero′di-as, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” – Mark 6:17-18
Surely it would have been much easier to have just kept his mouth shut given the alternative – imprisonment and eventually death. It may be tempting for us to do the same. We live in a world where relativism rules. The ‘you do you’ culture, where each person gets to decide what they believe is right and there is no absolute truth.
Our faith tells us differently, we have the moral law written on our hearts. If we struggle to agree with a teaching of the Church it is important to seek to understand that teaching, and there are many resources available to help us do so. Seek out the answers so that when we go out into the world we can be armed with the truth and have a strength of conviction that will not be swayed.
“He must increase, I must decrease”
These powerful words found in John 3:30 should echo as a prayer in our hearts every day. But what do they really mean?
Our number one goal in our faith journey should be to become as much like Christ as we can be. Jesus increasing in our life means we should give Him everything. Our thoughts, our actions, our will – the most important thing to us should be the fulfilment of His will. Easier said than done, but once we give ourselves over to Him, it can be the most freeing thing to rest in our complete reliance on Him.
For us to decrease it really means becoming less selfish! We give up our own desires, hopes and dreams in order to submit to the will of God. Selflessness is what true love is – willing the good of the other above all else (CCC 1766). When we decrease before our God we become humble, and in our humility that is where God will shine through.
If you’re ready to start your preparation in the wilderness join us for Evangelion’s upcoming virtual conference ‘In His Name’, happening 9-11 October. Registrations are opening next week! Make sure you’re subscribed and following us on social media to make sure you know when you can register. God bless!