Next Wednesday the Church remembers and gives thanks for the life, ministry and legacy of John The Baptist.
John the Baptist was the son of Zechariah, a priest of the temple, and of Elizabeth, a relation of Mary the mother of Jesus. His birth had been foretold by an angel, who instructed Zechariah the he should be called John.
John was a fearless man of uncompromising beliefs, a prophet with a clear mission to prepare the way for Christ.
Once again, this would have been a day when we would have gathered for mass, but it might be worth spending time reading the scripture passages for that day (Is 49:1-6; Acts 13: 22-26; Luke 1”57-66, 80) and pondering the significance of John the Baptist for the life of the Church today, as Covid restrictions begin to be eased and we move into a new phase in our life together.
I have recently become part of a National “Catholic and Sacramental Evangelism” group, which has been looking at ways in which we can grow as churches, in terms of numbers, depth of discipleship and impact on our communities.
I would say that John the Baptist offers us an excellent “lens” through which we can start to do some thinking about what this might look like for our own Churches; so I will offer a few “hooks” for your thinking, based on John’s example.
Firstly, John was uncompromising in his call to holiness. He challenges us to ask ourselves how, as followers to Jesus Christ today, can we rediscover our confidence, so that we can also be distinctive and live by the values of our faith?
Secondly, John challenged the status quo. All traditions can get stale, yet many people are craving an authentic spirituality and a genuine way of living for God. What does our tradition have to offer? Why does it matter to us? How can we breathe new life into all that is good about our tradition to bring renewal and freshness and to draw people into our Eucharistic communities?
Thirdly, John led people to Christ. That was his single purpose. The two great commandments Jesus gave to his disciples was to love God and to make disciples. Are we doing that? How are we doing that?
Fourthly, John opposed injustice. if we wish to show our commitment to Incarnational Mission, we need to be asking ourselves how we as churches can seek transformation in our community? What does transformation look like for us in our context?
These are all big questions to consider as we move into the “new normal” as, again, we ponder the question posed at our PCC away day last year, “What is the church for”?
Any thoughts, please don’t hesitate to tell me, or Fr David.
My love and prayers,
Scripture Readings – Commentary12th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings-Commentary