A Voice Crying Out in the Desert

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, and, as we do every year on this date, we hear about John the Baptist in our Gospel. St. Luke tells us that John “went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentence for the forgiveness of sins.” In fulfillment of the prophesy, John was the voice “crying out in the desert,” that we must “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

As many people have heard me say, John the Baptist is one of the saints who stand front and center when I visualize the communion of saints. He does so for a very simple reason.

John had an important role, but he never lost sight of the fact that (in the words of St. John’s Gospel) “he was not the light, but came to testify to the light.” John knew he wasn’t he central character in the story, and he accepted that. He knew that his job was to point the way to Christ and to help us prepare to receive Him – that (to use John’s language again) Jesus was the bridegroom and John the best man and that Jesus “must increase” and John “must decrease.”

John the Baptist is a worthy role model for all of us. When we are tempted to put the focus on ourselves, John is our reminder that it is not about us. We are all charged to testify to the light, to point the way to Christ by our words and our deed.

Several years ago, I posted a podcast with a reflection on John the Baptist. The post, from which you can stream the podcast, is here.

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