Lectio Divina – 19
Fr. Justine Kaipranpadan
“This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”He confessed without denying, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah? He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?”, they asked. And to that he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’”as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.” (Jn. 1:19-28).
No greater compliment could be paid to John the Baptist than the assessment of our Lord: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” (Matthew 11:11). John the Baptist was born with a specific purpose and timing in history. He knew that John needed to be the forerunner of Christ at this specific time in history. Even before his birth, John’s purpose was being aligned. God was calling. John “…grew and became strong in spirit and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.” Prophets were known to use the isolation of the desert places to grow spiritually over time and to focus their message on God. By living apart from the culture, in preparing for ministry, John was able to speak with great passion and clarity for the people of that day. His clothing and diet were simple; he wasn’t loaded down with the cares and desires of this world. He said “yes” to God’s mission, even when it probably was not easy. He knew and understood God’s call, and he pursued it with his whole heart and life. Many people followed John, came to hear him, but he did not let that make him proud and self-centred. He lived solely to bring others to Christ, and he was obedient to God’s purposes. John was not afraid of the religious or political leaders of his day. He saw beyond their exterior into the deeper heart. He spoke the hard truth to Herod. He spoke the truth with clarity and passion, never to people-please, but simply to preach the voice of God.
O’ dear God, John the Baptist teaches me some important lessons. I need to wake up and remain truthful and dutiful always. Lord, I take to heart what your Holy Spirit told me to do in my daily life; to listen the calling of God, to lead a simple life, to humble in all egoistic situation and to love the truth more than life. Help me Lord, to conquer pride and extravagances and to wake up for the purpose of life.
How can we live a life of detachment? John the Baptist was far away from the desires of the body and ego. Thinking through St Paul, “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (phil.3:8)
Stand for truthfulness even while in temptation and practice the art of simplicity in daily life.