Today we celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the forerunner to Christ and His prophet to bring others to “the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins” (Canticle of Zechariah). The Church only celebrates the birth of three people: Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. John the Baptist. Why is St. John included in this? Because he was set aside to prepare the way for Christ, readying the people for His arrival and teaching them to recognize and follow Him. We are called to follow the example of St. John and be the precursors for Christ ahead of His second coming, making the way for Him and pointing out the way to Him to others so that they will recognize Him both now and when He comes again.
St. John always deflected attention away from himself and made sure that others knew that there was someone greater than him coming, reminding his followers that he is not worthy to undo the sandals on Christ’s feet and “He must increase, I must decrease.” In our ministry, it is our duty to always strive to not make it about us and what we think is right, but what we know to be right by the teachings of Christ and His Church. We are to point the way to Christ, not ourselves. This is what it is to bring others to “the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” When we point others in the direction of Christ, we are showing them the way to their eternal home through forgiveness, repentance, and renewal of life. And the fullness of this forgiveness of sins is in the Catholic Church through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where they truly encounter Christ and are absolved by Him in the person of the priest. When we bring others to this truth and give them the tools to recognize the truth of Jesus Christ when they are bombarded with false teachings and doctrines, then we are truly following in the footsteps of St. John the Baptist and fulfilling our mission that has been entrusted to us.
We are not worthy to even undo the sandals of Christ, just as St. John said. Thus, we must also decrease ourselves while increasing Christ by our words and actions. Let us ask St. John for his intercession to help us do this in our lives and imitate him in bringing others to Christ and their heavenly home. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!