Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“’And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, . . . .’”
On one occasion our Lord, speaking to the multitudes about John, said that “’among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist’” (Mt. 11:11; Lk. 7:28). So important is this Forerunner of our Lord that, along with the Nativity of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ and the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, the Church intentionally commemorates his nativity. This speaks eloquently to just how critical the Baptizer of Jesus is in salvation history and of the synergy, that is, the cooperation between God and man. Someone, I believe it was St. Augustine, once said something to the effect that “without God we cannot; without us God will not.” We cannot and should not underestimate or undervalue the role of humanity in the salvific plan of God. Although all things are indeed possible with the Almighty, He elects, however, not to bring about our salvation any other way than through flesh and blood human beings. God Himself, Who is spirit, chooses to become flesh through the fiat of our Blessed Lady Theotokos. John, even in his mother’s womb, confesses this Mystery of the Faith!
As we said earlier, our Lord once testified that no one born among women has arisen who is greater than the Baptizer. And yet John, in all humility, defers to his Master quite willingly in loving obedience. “’He must increase, but I must decrease,’” he once told some others who approached him with the news that “’all’” were starting to go to Jesus. What the moon is to the sun, so John is to our Lord which John gladly owned. He told those same souls concerned for the growing popularity of Jesus, “’A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from Heaven.’” Knowing himself in relation to Jesus, indeed, knowing himself in relation to God, John was quite content spiritually with being the best man instead of the bridegroom. The joy is his, he declared, because he knew his place, if you will. His joy is made whole and complete as he owns his place and purpose in the mind of God (Jn. 3:22-36). This John was “sent from God.” He came to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe” (Jn. 1:6-9). We would do well ourselves to watch this great humble Prophet of the Lord and echo his faith and his life of humility by which joy and contentment may be ours. So often, we want to make something of ourselves instead of giving over to God and permitting Him as Potter to fashion the clay of our hearts.
Beloved, all of the world’s history is destined to bow before Him Who is the Creator of all things, Who condescended to enter into His creation in the flesh of His creature. For “every knee [shall] bow, . . ., and every tongue [shall] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [of lords and King of kings], to the glory of God the Father” (Is. 45:23; Rm. 14:11; Pp. 2:10-11; 1 Tm. 6:15; Rv. 19:16).
And, John will be leading the way, just as he has always done, fulfilling his role and his purpose in the will of God. Notice, beloved, how we inevitably, if not invariably, come to Jesus Christ. John exists to show us the Christ, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. He is born to praise God, to announce the glad tidings – “’One mightier than I . . . Whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose’ [is here]!” (Mt. 3:11; Lk. 3:16). John yields to the divine Mystery, beloved. He balks at baptizing Him Who has no need of baptism for He has no sin, yet the Master says to His humble servant, “’Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness’” (Mt. 3:15). John shows us how to be with God. He shows us we must enter into the divine Mystery and resist the temptation to craft the Mystery to our limited comprehension and knowledge. For it is the divine and holy Mystery that saves and transforms and transfigures us. We are born to praise God. We are born to be His witnesses to His Truth.
“’And you, child, will be called the Prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, . . . .’”
Through the prayers of the holy glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
VIGIL PROPERS: PROPERS:
Gn. 17:15-17, 19; 18:11-14; 21:1-8 Rm. 13:11-14:4
Jg. 13:2-8, 13-14, 17-18, 21 Lk. 1:1-25, 57-68, 76, 80
Is. 40; 41; 45; 48; 54