John the Baptist: A Role Model for Advent and Always

Both this Sunday and next Sunday – the Second and Third Sundays in Advent – we hear about John the Baptist in our Gospel readings.  (Today’s is from the first chapter of Mark and next Sunday’s is from the first chapter of John.)

John was given an important role. He was, in the words of Isaiah, the “voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Or, as it is put in the prologue to John’s Gospel, he “came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.”  John “went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”

The Gospel of John reminds us that John the Baptist “was not the light, but came to testify to the light.” I often say about John that what makes him so special to me is that he knew it wasn’t about him and that was OK with him. He knew that his job was to point the way to Christ and to help us prepare to receive Him.

John the Baptist is a worthy role model for all of us. When we are tempted to put the focus on ourselves, John should be our reminder that we too are messengers. Like John, we are all charged to testify to the light, to point the way to Christ by our words and our deed. To prepare not only ourselves to receive Christ, but all those with whom we come in contact.