Homily – June 24, 2018

Our actions and our choices have consequences. We know this from our own life experiences. God’s actions and choices have consequences. We know this from what we call ‘salvation history’. God called Isaiah before Isaiah was born for a particular purpose, to bring back Jacob, the Jewish people to a greater fidelity to God. God picked David, a mere boy watching his father’s sheep to be the future king of Israel. Jesus was born as a member, a descendant of the house of David. John the Baptist, a cousin of Jesus was chosen by God to be the one who would prepare the people to be touch and transformed by the life and ministry of Jesus. At John’s circumcision his father said of him, ‘you my child will be called the prophet of the Most High for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways’.

John the Baptist came out of the wilderness preaching a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He gathered a great number of followers and enjoyed a great popularity among the people. When Jesus came on the scene John told the people, ‘someone is coming after men who is greater that I and I am not worthy to undo the strap of his scandals Pointing to Jesus John told the crowd, behold the lamb of God.

Eventually some, if not many of John’s disciples left him and started to follow Jesus.

Most of us would be resentful at such disloyalty, angered at these ‘fair weather friends’. But John simply said, ‘he must increase, I must decrease.’ The church has used John’s words in fixing the feasts of the birth of Christ at the winter equinox, when the days, imperceptively get longer and the feast of John at the summer equinox, when the days, imperceptively get shorter.

When he heard reports of Jesus gently inviting sinners in, eating and drinking with them, rather than casting them off, John was scandalized, that kind of a messiah didn’t fit John’s expectations, nor his preaching. That’s why Jesus, in sending a response to John’s question, ‘are you he who is to come or should we look for another, invited John not to be scandalized in him but consider the works he was doing. John hadn’t wanted a gentle, vulnerable, peace-preaching messiah. He wanted bad people punished, not converted. But, to his credit, once he saw how Jesus’ power worked, he understood, accepted a deeper truth, stepped back in self-effacement, and pointed people in Jesus’ direction with the words: ‘behold the lamb of God, he must increase and I must decrease.

What can we learn from the life of John the Baptist? Maybe we could learn to let go. Let go of being in charge and be open to the thoughts of others. Let go of our need to control and let sons and daughters find their own way. Let go of thinking we know what is best for adult sons and daughters and their family affairs. Let go of interfering with the life choices of our young people and respect their wishes. Let go of believing we know what is best for every occasion, every person. In our senior years, let go of our independence and learn to live with our limitations. Let go of car keys and accept the wisdom of others.

Let go. It’s not easy, it wasn’t easy for John the Baptist. He stepped aside to make room for Jesus and his mission.

On this feast of a man who was graced to know how and when to let go may we be blessed, looking into our own life situations, our own relationship with others, with the grace and the strength to let go.